MORE than 40 firefighters were last night battling a blaze at an historic thatched cottage in the New Forest.

The fire took hold in the roof of Old Oak Farm in Cadnam at about 5pm and was still being dampened down as the Daily Echo went to press.

Police closed the busy Romsey Road from the Cadnam roundabout to Old Lyndhurst Road until the early hours as fire crews pumped water from numerous sources to quell the flames.

With the fire deep in the thatch, firefighters were forced to strip the thatch off the brick and timber building, which suffered fire and water damage to the roof and part of the first floor.

The alarm was raised by owner, named locally as Nicholas Paulo, 75, who managed to escape unharmed.

Last night he was too shocked to speak to the Daily Echo and was being comforted by neighbour Frances Cooper at the nearby Uncle Tom’s Cabin florist.

Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service group manager Dan Tasker said: “Crews have worked extremely hard in tough conditions in order to save the property.

“I am delighted to say that the fire has been brought under control with minor damage.”

An investigation has been launched although the blaze was not thought to be suspicious.