RELATIVES of a grandfather left in intensive care after his home went up in flames have today told of the family's nightmare - as they thanked the community for their 'overwhelming' outpouring of support and donations since the blaze.

John Madley suffered smoke inhalation after his thatched cottage in Poxwell, near Weymouth, went up in flames, and is now recovering in a temporary new home after being treated in intensive care.

Damian Crawford, a holidaymaker from Kent, ran towards the burning cottage - which also houses a holiday let - to evacuate the occupants when he came across the blaze on Thursday, October 22 before 65 firefighters worked to extinguish the flames.

It is believed the cottage will remain uninhabitable for around 18 months to two years.

Retired farmer Mr Madley's daughter, Sue Russell recalled how she received 'a phone call no one ever wants to receive' to say his house was on fire.

“Our father was in his office upstairs when the fire started," she said.

Dorset Echo:

“He heard the fire alarm going off and when he came downstairs, the kitchen was full of flames and smoke.

“He managed to get himself out of the house. He was taken to hospital but he has been released and it will be a slow recovery back to full health.”

Firefighters tackled the fire through the night and a crew from Weymouth Fire Station returned the following day to hose down the property and access the cottage.

An investigation into the cause of the fire by Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service is ongoing.

Mrs Russell was keen to stress that her 88-year-old father was not cooking and was unaware of the fire until the smoke alarm alerted him.

She added: “The amazing teams from Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service did all they could to stop the blaze.

"I cannot thank all their team enough for their work all through the night and on Friday.

"An extra big thank you to Andy Green and Holmes Farms for assisting the fire service with their farm equipment.

“We cannot express how grateful we are.”

Mrs Russell revealed that the blaze came just three weeks after Mr Madley had buried his wife, Jane, after she died at a Weymouth nursing home.

The house contained many of her belongings which held a high sentimental value to the family.

Since the blaze, the family has seen people drop off donations including clothes and food to support Mr Madley.

An emotional Mrs Russell thanked the community for their 'overwhelming support' and kind messages since the devastating fire.

Dorset Echo:

She said: “I would like to thank everyone who has donated clothes to us and Preston Spar shop for donating food. They had dropped off a green container of food to us this week.

“Everyone has been donating clothes and I would like to thank these people for their kindest and generosity.”

She also thanked Damian and his wife Louise for calling the emergency services and looking after her father.

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Nearly 70 firefighters from across Dorset tackle blaze 

Dorset Echo:

At the height of the fire, there were nearly 70 firefighters tackling the blaze at the semi-detached cottage, stripping thatch from the roof and salvaging possessions from the two homes.

13 fire crews from across Dorset including Weymouth, Bridport, Beaminster, Wareham and Poole tried to contain the blaze.

Firefighters from Weymouth Fire Station returned to the scene on Friday (October 23) to hose down the property and access the building.

Station manager Charlie Pack, who was the incident commander, said: “The fire started in the kitchen of one of the cottages, but quickly spread up into the thatched roof shared by the pair of cottages.

“As a result, both properties have suffered significant damage and the occupant of one cottage suffered smoke inhalation and had to be taken to hospital.”

A fire investigation is on-going to establish the exact cause of the blaze.