Barn blaze wrecks entire year's crop

PUBLISHED: 19:44 06 August 2008 | UPDATED: 15:51 11 May 2010

AFTERMATH: Farmer Robert Law in the barn which contained his hay crop for the year. 3092DW011

AFTERMATH: Farmer Robert Law in the barn which contained his hay crop for the year. 3092DW011

A FARMER lost his entire year s hay crop after a blaze devastated one of his barns. Fire-fighters were called to Thrift Farm, near Royston, at 12.14pm on Friday, after the farm s owner, Robert Law, saw smoke in his yard. Royston s two fire crews were firs

A FARMER lost his entire year's hay crop after a blaze devastated one of his barns.

Fire-fighters were called to Thrift Farm, near Royston, at 12.14pm on Friday, after the farm's owner, Robert Law, saw smoke in his yard.

Royston's two fire crews were first on the scene, led by watch commander David Rees.

Mr Rees said: "We arrived to find a barn on fire.

"There were at least 100 tonnes of hay in it and it was well alight.

"It had been going for a while before we were called and I asked for more appliances straight away."

Nine crews and about 45 fire-fighters from stations across the county, including Stevenage, Baldock, and Buntingford, were involved at the height of the operation, which lasted more than 36 hours.

One of the main problems that fire-fighters encountered was getting water to the site.

Mr Rees said: "The water supply there doesn't have a hydrant near it, so we had to use a water shuttle from the hydrant outside The Jester public house in Odsey."

Police attended and one lane of the A505 towards Baldock was closed briefly on Friday because of concern about the spread of smoke.

Fire-fighters eventually left the site on Sunday afternoon, with crews from Royston returning every six to eight hours to carry out inspections.

"With hay fires you get an incredible build-up of heat inside the stack," said Mr Rees.

"By the time we arrived the straw was beyond saving, so all we could do was protect the site and let it burn out."

On Tuesday, fire-fighters were finally able to remove the hay from the barn and spread it out to cool down.

Mr Law told The Crow about the moment he realised the barn was on fire.

"I had been away all morning and as I came up the drive, I saw smoke in the yard," he said.

"I ran down to the barn, saw the smoke, and then called 999 straight away."

Mr Law said that the barn contained about 150 tonnes of hay.

"We have lost our entire hay crop for this year," he said.

"I will be compensated over the loss of hay, but I will need to go out and get some more, because I have a lot of animals to feed this winter."

But a philosophical Mr Law admitted: "It could have been so much worse."

A fire investigation officer was due to visit Thrift Farm yesterday (Wednesday) in an attempt to establish the cause of the fire.

At this stage it is not believed to be suspicious.

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