Firefighters battled for hours on Tuesday to save a 17th century home in Market Lavington as flames tore through it.

The house in the High Street, owned by parish councillor Frank Jones and his wife Sarah, was badly damaged as the fire spread through the three-storey property but did not spread to neighbouring homes.

The alarm was raised by plumber Andy Ottaway who spotted smoke while working on a next door home at 1pm on Tuesday.

Fire engines from Devizes and Westbury were the first on the scene. They were later joined by crews from all over the county plus an aerial appliance from Swindon.

Wiltshire Fire and Rescue said yesterday the cause of the fire was accidental but is still being investigated.

Neighbour Paul Churchill, who was in London when the fire broke out, said Mr Ottaway was carrying out central heating work on his house but this was not the cause.

He said: “Mr Ottaway is the hero in this. If he had not called the fire brigade so quickly the damage to all the houses could have been much worse.”

Mr and Mrs Jones were at work when the fire broke out and their younger daughter was at Lavington School.

They arrived home to find their street cordoned off and their home surrounded by firefighters battling to stop the fire spreading into neighbouring houses.

A firefighter rescued a pet hamster, called Jolene, from an upstairs room and later took rabbits kept near the back door to safety.

The family were too upset to talk about the fire in detail but said: “The fire service did a wonderful job and we would like to thank them for everything they did.”

Devizes fire station manager Darren Nixon said: “It wasn’t a straightforward fire because of the complex layout.

“When we got there the fire was already well developed so it is possible it had been going for a while.

"When the family returned they were upset but we did everything we could to help them salvage important belongings. The fire caused serious damage to the roof and the two upper floors.”

See videos of the fire by Matthew Williams here