05:07AM, Wednesday 29 February 2012
A retired couple have spoken of their shock after a house fire devastated their kitchen on Monday.
Jean and John Mitchell were today coming to terms with the damage at their home of 25 years in Lees Close and said they're 'in limbo'.
The couple were staying in their son's Battersea flat when they had a text from a neighbour just after 5pm to say the burglar alarm was going off.
Neighbour Bal Dosanjh said he had looked around but couldn't see anything odd so the couple alerted their other son Oliver, of Cox Green. When he arrived five minutes later he opened the back door which leads into the kitchen and was greeted with a wall of black smoke.
He told Mr Dosanjh to call the fire service while the worried couple made their way back from London.
Jean, 64, said: "It's typical that it was the only night we were away because if we'd been here then we would have seen it happen. We didn't know what we were going to find, I can't believe it."
The Mitchells' kitchen been ruined, with thick black smoke leaving a heavy residue on every surface. The heat was so intense that an air vent on the other side of the room was reduced to melted plastic.
The couple, members of Maidenhead Town Bowls Club, arrived home just before 7pm when fire engines were still on the scene. "They said if the alarm had been raised just 10 minutes later the whole house would have gone up," said Jean.
The blaze started in a boiler cupboard but John, 63, suspects a problem with the flue may have caused the fire.
Neighbours gathered in the cul-de-sac as they saw smoke billowing from the house and Anne Stokes described the drama which unfolded outside her window. She said: "We saw the smoke coming out of the windows.
"The smoke was just billowing, we didn't know if the house was going to burst into flames."
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Police raided addresses in Lillibrooke Crescent, Cox Green, and in Crown Lane, Farnham Royal, at about 7.15am.