Firefighters still at farm inferno scene

FIREFIGHTERS in Suffolk are continuing to dampen down the scene of massive farm fire which took place yesterday.

Two crews are continuing to dampen down the blaze which started in a baler in Hill Farm, Shotley Road, Chelmondiston at around 1.30pm, quickly spreading to standing crops and woodland.

Eight fire crews were scrambled to the scene from Holbrook, Ipswich and Felixstowe, while two water bowsers were also sent.

At present, one fire engine from Ipswich and one from Holbrook remain at the scene.

A spokesman for Suffolk fire service said he was unsure how long the crews would remain on the site.

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More than 50 firefighters fought the 25-acre blaze yesterday which saw flames “shooting into the sky” and plumes of smoke visible for miles.

The fire started in a baler and the flames quickly spread on the wind to standing crops in the fields east of the farm and into Cliff Plantation, an area of woodland along the shore of the River Orwell.

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Smoke could be seen and smelled from as far as Ipswich, Trimley St Mary and Felixstowe.

Eyewitness David Baalham, 54, of Main Road, Chelmondiston, said: “We arrived when it was in full force and when we got down here, there were flames shooting up into the sky. They were right up above the trees about 50 or 60ft high.

“As far as we can gather, it started in the field and spread down the field to the woods. But we saw a massive amount of smoke and the flames were leaping up into the sky.”

Firefighters estimated at least 25 acres were on fire, of which five acres were dense woodland which was more difficult to tackle.

Residents expressed concern over Clamp House, a cottage very close to the fire, but emergency services confirmed no-one had been evacuated and no properties were damaged.

Incident commander Karl Rolfe, of Suffolk Fire Service, said: “We had a pretty extensive fire involving fields and stubble and cut straw to start with.

“We were engaged in heavy-duty firefighting in the woodland area, because it is much harder going among the trees than in the open.”

Eight fire engines were scrambled from Ipswich, Holbrook and Felixstowe. Two water carriers, each holding 9,000 litres, and an off-road vehicle also attended. A number of relief engines attended later in the evening to continue fighting the blaze.

By about 5pm, crews had extinguished the fire, but they were expected to remain at the scene damping down well into the evening.

Mr Rolfe said: “We believe the fire started in a baler and got into the cut straw and stubble and then, with the wind direction and dry conditions, the fire accelerated very quickly. There was a lot of smoke generated but no fire damage to any properties.”

Ambulances and police were also at the scene as a precautionary measure.

The blaze came at the same time as a fire engulfed a large quantity of crops in Winfarthing Road, Shelfanger, near Diss, at around 1.30pm.

Fire crews from Diss attended and requested help from fire stations across Norfolk to put out more than three hectares of cut and standing crops.

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