A FAMILY whose long-running furniture shop was devastated by a fire have thanked the community who rallied to their aid.

Firefighters rushed to save the 16th century thatched Lisseters shop in King's End in Bicester when a fire ripped through its workshop last Wednesday.

Smoke could be seen billowing into the sky as the shop's workshop was reduced to rubble and ashes in the serious fire.

The Lisseter family have since praised the 'tremendous' efforts from the fire service in saving their historic shop building, as well as the community who turned out in force to support the business.

Shop owner James Lisseter said: "We cannot thank the emergency services enough especially the fire service.

"Many thanks also to our neighbouring businesses the Littlebury Hotel, Bar 13, SafeGreen Electrical, Tugwells Property Services and to all the local community who turned out to help us.

"We would like to thank our loyal customers for the many kind wishes we have received."

Three generations of the Lisseter family have been involved in the furniture trade since 1947.

They were alerted to the workshop fire shortly before 1pm and emergency crews said they could see smoke from the collapsed workshop billowing through the town from a 'considerable distance'.

A least seven fire engines were sent to help to put out the fire.

The Littlebury Hotel next door also adjoins the building and fire crews had to go through the hotel grounds to get to the workshop.

Michael McKeon of The Littlebury Hotel said: "I happened to be making a telephone call at the time and looked out the window of the office and saw a lot of smoke going past.

"I thought it was just someone burning green branches as there was so much smoke.

"I went to see what was going on and realised it was the workshop, so went round the front of the shop and by then they were all aware and out safe.

"The fire service used part of our land to get to the fire, it was a bit of a worry being next door.

"It was lucky the wind was blowing the right way otherwise it would've taken our stable or their thatch.

"We were all extremely lucky."

The Littlebury Hotel was among several business which offered the family support after the fire including inviting them in for teas and coffees.

Further along the road in Church Street, bar Thirteen also turned out in support. Owner Phil Yates said: "We are good friends with the family, they actually helped us with the furniture at the bar, so my first thought was I hoped everyone was ok.

"I sent a text and then saw the family come out all were safe.

"The fire was out the back so all you could see was the smoke, but obviously the main building is thatched so I think that's why there were so many fire engines."

The bar also invited the family along for drinks the days following the fire and joined businesses in offering their support.

Mr Yates added: "It just shows the resilience of Lisseters the business as it is back to business as usual.

"It could've been a lot worse."

The furniture showrooms were not affected in the fire and the shop is trading as normal.

Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service said the fire was believed to be accidental.