Claudia Schiffer's Suffolk mansion hit by fire

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Claudia Schiffer's mansion hit by fire

Claudia Schiffer's Elizabethan mansion has been hit by fire, which has destroyed parts of the Grade 1-listed hall. Among the casualties of the fire were a clock tower and the former stables, as eight fire crews battled to put the fire out.

The family were said to have been at the property, but no-one was hurt in the blaze. Never-the-less, it's a reminder of how important it is to take careful precautions against fire.

Supermodel Schiffer has owned Coldham Hall in Lawshall near Bury St Edmunds for 12 years. She lives for much of the week in Notting Hill, but spends many of the weekends and school holidays at the property with her husband, the film producer Matthew Vaughn, and their three children. The couple also held their wedding reception at the 16th century hall.

The Daily Telegraph reported that the family had bought the home after Vaughn fell in love with it as a child. He had visited the house as a young boy, when a family friend owned it. The couple were visiting the area and she told the newspaper: "One day we decided to see if the owners might ever plan to sell. We literally knocked on the door, asked them, and found out that they were - it was that easy."

The fire started on Monday and the Daily Mail reported firefighters as saying it was started accidentally. Fortunately they managed to put the fire out before it caused too much destruction or spread to the main house.

Surprisingly common

It seems shocking that so many celebrities are affected by house fires. Richard Branson's recent Necker Island fire was one of the most widely reported, but over the years everyone from the Gibb Brothers to Sean Penn, Robert De Niro, and The Queen have seen their homes destroyed by fire.

In fact, house fires are more common than you might think. Fire crews were called to 41,000 of them in the UK in 2012-13 - of which 89% were started by accident. The main cause was the misuse of appliances - half of which were cookers. Meanwhile, the main cause of fires in which someone died was careless handling of fire - including the disposal of cigarettes.

Take care

The fire service has issued advice on preventing fires at home. They suggest taking particular care in the kitchen - where half of all fires start - and never leaving young children alone there. They say cooking with oil can be particularly dangerous, and suggest buying a deep-fat fryer which is controlled by thermostat.

They highlight that any naked flame is a danger, so lit candles must never be left unattended, matches and lighters should be stored out of reach of children, and cigarettes must be stubbed out properly. They add that it's vital you never smoke in bed.

To avoid electrical fires, they recommend just one plug in any socket, and that TVs and other electrical appliances should be turned off when not in use.

When you go to bed, it's safest to shut all the doors. If you want to keep a child's bedroom door open, close the doors to the lounge and kitchen. This may well help save their life if there is a fire.

You should also make a clear fire escape plan, and make sure everyone in the house is aware of it. Keep exits clear so that people can escape if there's a fire. Make sure everyone in your home can easily find the keys for doors and windows.

And finally, fit smoke alarms on each level in your home. Dust them and test them once a week.