Billie Piper and Laurence Fox start Christmas with a chimney fire at Easebourne

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EASEBOURNE’S best known villagers had a bad start to their Christmas when they had to call in Midhurst’s firefighters in the early hours of Tuesday (December 23) morning.

Actor Laurence Fox and his actress wife Billie Piper lit the open fire at their home in Easebourne Street and it started a blaze in the chimney.

Station Manager Nigel Gamblen told the Observer: “We got the call about 1.15am in the early hours of Tuesday.

“They had heard the roaring in the chimney and saw the sparks and so they called us out which was absolutely the right thing to do.

“The children were asleep upstairs and we dealt with it all very quickly.

“They made us very welcome and gave us cups of tea and we exchanged some nice banter while we put out the fire.”

Laurence Fox, star of ITV detective drama Lewis, posted this photograph of the firefighters Nigel Gamblen, Mat Seymour, Calvin Lawson and John Cole in the living room of his cottage on Twitter commenting: ‘Midhurst’s finest. A proper thank you.’

However, he blamed the fire on the people who had rented the cottage while he and Billie, star of The Secret Diary Of A Call Girl, were in London.

“Massive thanks to the previous tenants for not having the chimney swept,” he said.

Mr Gamblen: “This is a good moment to remind people to get their chimneys swept - you should do it twice a year - before the winter and afterwards to make sure there is no loose soot around.”

Former Doctor Who star Billie and Laurence had moved to London while she appeared on stage in the National Theatre production of phone-hacking drama Great Britain earlier this year.

Earlier this year the couple put their Easebourne home on the market for £825,000 and moved back to London with their two sons Winston and Eugene.

They were married in St Mary’s Church Easebourne by the Rev Derek Welsman on New Year’s Day 2007.