Family devastated after fire claims loving grandparents

The family and friends of the couple killed in a devastating house fire have paid tribute to the ‘well liked’ members of the community.

FAMILY and friends of an elderly couple killed in a devastating house fire on Monday have paid tribute to two ‘amazing grandparents’.

The bodies of Joan Rines, 76, and Bob Rines, 61, were discovered in the burnt-out shell of the Meadow Park Lodge on Castle Hill Estate, Filleigh, after it caught fire in the early hours of the morning.

The couple had been happily married for 35 years and moved into the Grade II listed building in 2005.

Charlotte Butler, one of the couple’s 13 grandchildren, said: “I know people say they love their grandparents but we had a relationship better than any other.”

“I didn’t call Bob granddad - I always thought he deserved the title as he was my granddad at heart, but he told me he’d rather be called Bob.

“They both had the best sense of humour and that’s why they were so brilliant to get on with.

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“I spoke to Nan and Bob the night before the incident and I will remember it for the rest of my life.

“They were amazing grandparents who put family first – always; they would do anything for us and cared so much.

“We will miss them dreadfully but I believe they would have been happy to have gone together, just not in these circumstances.”

The bodies were recovered as fire crews worked with police to determine the cause of the fire, which was not thought to be suspicious at this time.

The building was severely damaged and the roof had collapsed in the blaze which took three fire engines to tackle at its peak.

A police spokesman said the investigation was being carried out very carefully, as the roof of the building had collapsed and there were fears for the safety of the property.

Mr Rines worked full time for South West Water but was due to retire at the end of the year, and Mrs Rines was retired with five children: Kevin Dodge, Steven Dodge and Tracey Butler who live locally, and Andrew Dodge and Caroline Cragon who live in Canada.

The couple also enjoyed a very close-knit family of 13 grandchildren, and three great grandchildren.

Daughter Tracey Butler said: “They were due to go to France on Friday for two weeks, they loved it there.

“Bob was a big fan of football and supported Bristol City, and Mum loved tennis.

“We are just in shock; we are a very close family and we can’t believe this has happened”

Lady Arran, who owns Castle Hill Estate, said: “They were just an incredibly lovely couple; everybody is in a state of complete shock.

“We are just feeling complete devastation at the loss for the family, and a huge sense of sadness for the community who knew and were very fond of them.”

Paul Smalley, the Estate’s agent, said: “They were well respected and well liked members of this very small community.

“I let the property to them when they moved here in 2005, and we all saw quite a bit of them because their house was very prominent. It is just the most awful tragedy.”

The bodies were taken to Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital for a post mortem examination yesterday (Tuesday).

The couple’s dog Marley was found outside the property when fire crews arrived, and their cat Linny was found yesterday morning, both unharmed.

The fire was a tragic echo of the 1934 blaze which destroyed the main house and claimed the lives of two servants.

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