Barn blaze after lightning strike

A LIGHTNING strike caused a major fire in a barn at a farm which could be seen for miles around on the Essex/Suffolk border.Tweny firefighters managed to stop the fire at Froyz Hall Farm, near Gosfield, spreading to a shop selling cartridges and other shooting supplies which was at the back of the barn.

By Juliette Maxam

A LIGHTNING strike caused a major fire in a barn at a farm which could be seen for miles around on the Essex/Suffolk border.

Tweny firefighters managed to stop the fire at Froyz Hall Farm, near Gosfield, spreading to a shop selling cartridges and other shooting supplies which was at the back of the barn.

One firemen, from Sible Hedingham fire station, was injured by falling debris and was taken by ambulance to Broomfield Hospital, Chelmsford, with a cut to his face.


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The lightning struck at 5pm yesterday , when Stephen Goodchild, of KG Shooting Supplies, was serving a customer.

“There was this bang of lightning and my customer said: 'Blimey, that was close.' I had my back to the window. As he was writing a cheque, he looked up and said: 'There's smoke coming out of the roof behind you.'

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“I ran out. By the time I got out there were flames coming out. From the time the lightning hit to the flames coming out was a matter of minutes.”

Mr Goodchild and his customer ran back to the shop, phoned the fire service and then moved all the cartridges away from the back of the shop, he said.

Farm owner Judi Butler was in the farmhouse with her six-year-old daughter and three-year-old son at the time. “There was a big crash, we all jumped about two feet, then Robin (who runs a garage on the site) came running round. I could tell something was wrong. Flames were coming up so high, it was horribly frightening.”

Mrs Butler also called the fire service, before moving horses from stables near the barn to a field. She called her husband, Michael, who was working on a holiday cottage in Aldeburgh.

Mr Butler returned home and helped firefighters by removing debris with a digger.

The 150-year-old timber frame barn contained all the possessions belonging to the owner of RJS Motors, who was too upset to talk last night, and the Butlers' log store.

Station Officer Peter Robertson, of Halstead Fire Station, said: “There was a big concern for the building round the corner, the shooting supplies shop, we made sure that was safe and kept the fire away from it, but it was a bit scary at first.”

He added: “You could see it from Halstead and the whole valley.”

Meanwhile, weather experts warned people yesterday not to put away the brollies yet.

An inch of rain fell across East Anglia on Wednesday night - almost half the rainfall expected for July. It represented the heaviest downpour for two years.

EADT weatherman Ken Blowers said 12.11 inches of rain had fallen since the beginning of January, which was just five inches off the total rainfall of the whole of last year.

“It will be similar on Saturday, Monday and Tuesday. Each of the depressions has been quite unusual and the one that's bringing all the present wind and rain is now centred in the southern North Sea,” he said.

“It's only going away very slowly. That's why we are going to get more showers. We are over the worst. It's very rare to get so much rain in July. It's rained most days.”

Yesterday EDF Energy was returning power to the 19,700 homes and businesses in East Anglia, which suffered blackouts after the driving winds brought down power lines on Wednesday night.

Trees were also brought down in Suffolk and Essex, with all emergency services saying they were left extremely busy.

Meanwhile, the extreme weather has caused the week-long exhibition on the planned SnOasis winter resort near Needham Market to relocate because of high winds.

The display has moved from the present site off Bramford Road, in Great Blakenham, to the library of Claydon High School, opening from 10am to 7pm today and 9am to noon tomorrow.

An open-air production of a Shakespeare play at Dunwich was also abandoned after the crew was caught in Wednesday's gales and could not even stand to erect the set in the garden of the Ship Inn.

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