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Written by Stan Simons 1999, reproduced by kind permission of his daughter Diana Glasspool.

The Story of Stan:
Under Fire

Fires - I've seen a few in my time, not including Mary setting fire to the chip pan twice. Once burning off the entire plastic kitchen ceiling tiles. We no longer possess a chip pan.

Our cottage at Burton Latimer was in a square, at the end was Batty's Leather Factory. This caught fire one day and went up like a bomb. An elderly couple lived in the cottage next to the factory and we got them out OK. The conflagration caused their roof to catch fire and suddenly the old lady cried, "My teeth are in there in a cup on the kitchen table". With the roof blazing away I thought no more but went and rescued them. Kettering Fire Brigade attended the incident, were we glad to see a fireman come charging up the entry with a hose-pipe in his hand, water already shooting out!

Whilst still living at Burton Latimer we made sure the fire in the grate was out, before going to stay with my parents at Kettering for the Christmas holiday. On Christmas Eve we all went visiting some friends, Winn and Stan Bailey, to have a drink and a game of cards. Suddenly the phone rang and Stan said, "It's for you Stan." It was one of our neighbours who told me our house had been on fire, but not to worry as the Burton Latimer enrolled firemen had put it out.

Stan then took me to Burton, in his car, to see what damage had been caused; the firemen were still there. The chimney had apparently caught fire and burning soot had fallen down, doing a certain amount of damage to the carpet etc. They said: "You can go back to Kettering now, the fire is out." I gave them a fiver to buy a last drink at the Horse and Groom but the landlord had put up the towels, as it was past eleven o'clock. Some days later I received a nice letter from the Fire Brigade Union thanking me for my contribution of five pounds for their benevolent fund.

The next day, Christmas morning, who should turn up at my Mum and Dad's but this same neighbour, a Mr.Dickens. He told us that the house had caught fire again, about one o'clock in the morning.

In those days the local part-time retained firemen were called out with a loud hooter. They daren't blow it a second time or the regular fire brigade at Kettering, four miles away, would hear it and wonder what was going on.

This time they rushed around each other's houses and when they got to our cottage got out the axes to smash in the chimneybreast. Luckily Mr Dickens, who had called them out for the second time, was a builder by trade. He persuaded them to let him remove some of the bricks above the fireplace. Behind our modern fireplace was an old-fashioned grate, which people in years gone by cooked on. This had sidepieces and these had become built up, through the years, with soot. The chimney was swept regularly but brushing would have no effect on this build up.

When all the brickwork was repaired, wall plastered and redecorated, we claimed, and received payment from our Insurance Company for all the damage that had been done.

Another time, on November 5th, a rocket set fire to the roof of a large boot and shoe factory and it was the best bonfire you have ever seen.

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