40 firefighters tackle farm fire

A FARMER has praised 40 firefighters who battled to save one of his barns containing animals and machinery.

John Howard

A FARMER has praised 40 firefighters who battled to save a barn which is home to 30 chickens and agricultural machinery.

Six crews were called to Thornbush Farm at Stonham Aspal, near Stowmarket, after the blaze erupted in straw bales within the grain store at about 12.35pm .

Firefighters from Ipswich, Stowmarket, Needham Market, Debenham, Framlingham and Elmswell were faced with thick smoke billowing out across the fields and had to wear breathing apparatus and face masks as they dealt with the incident.

And one woman, a family friend of the owners, had to be treated for smoke inhalation by fire crews after she attempted to rescue the hens who survived the blaze at the 77-acre small-holding unhurt.

Dennis Havers, 71, who has farmed there for 45 years, helped his family tackle the blaze with fire extinguishes in the first minutes of the incident.

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He also drove tractors from the barn, but had to abandon the combine harvester because the battery was flat.

Mr Havers, who is a married to Anne, 68, said: “I was in bed and my daughter came rushing up screaming that the barn was on fire. There was so much smoke, drifting across the fields.

“I grabbed a fire extinguisher, and took one to my son-in-law, and we both tackled the fire. My grandson was there too, running out with pales of water.

“I drove a couple of tractors out. We only just stopped it from getting worse and two minutes more and it could have been too late. The fire service got here very quickly and did an excellent job, we cannot thank them enough.”

Mrs Havers added: “I have never seen so many fire engines in all my life. They were here very quick.”

ADO Gary Clark, the fire officer in charge of the incident, said the chickens, who were released, had survived the blaze after the fire broke out in straw bails on a mezzanine floor within the barn. Crews removed bails to the floor as they tackled the incident, which spread within the floor and damaged the barn roof.

The cause of the fire was a mystery, although the family suspect it may have been due because of an electrical problem.

A spokesman for the ambulance service said they treated one woman on the scene for smoke inhalation, but her injuries were not serious.

The incident was brought under control by about 3.15pm.