Shropshire farmer in tears as fire destroys barn

Telford | News | Published:

A farmer watched up to £40,000 of hay go up in flames in a barn blaze that burned for 24 hours.

The fire, at Middle House Farm in Oreton, near Cleobury Mortimer, is the latest in a spate of 12 barn fires and 32 other farm blazes across the county this summer.

The cause of the Cleobury Mortimer fire is being investigated by both police and the fire service, though most turn out not to be deliberate, fire crime officer Derek Taylor said, with only two farm fires last month confirmed to be arson.

However, farm fires cost the service thousands of pounds, at roughly £250 per hour the fire rages, he said.

The alarm was raised at Middle House Farm at about 6pm on Tuesday when a six-bay barn caught fire.

A total of 12 fire crews from Bridgnorth, Cleobury Mortimer, Craven Arms, Ludlow and Tweedale fought to control the blaze and stop it spreading, though Tuesday night and into yesterday evening.

Richard Derricutt, who runs the farm with his two brothers and father John, said the devastation had brought him to tears.

He said: "I was here at about 5pm and I went off to do some baling.

"One of the neighbours noticed it about 5.45pm. He was coming up the road, driving a combine harvester for someone else, and he saw some smoke.


"He thought he'd better check out what it was, and he saw barn was all aflame.

"It's devastating really – when they rang up and told me I just burst into tears."

He said about 500 tonnes of hay had gone up in smoke, worth roughly about £40,000.

In addition about £60,000 of farm machinery was damaged.


"We managed to get most of the machinery out, but some of it got pretty burnt, so we'll have to see if we can salvage it," he said.

"I don't know what we'll do now.

"Hopefully it will be covered by the insurance."

As he spoke yesterday firefighters were still containing the fire, raking out the hay to let it burn itself out.

Watch manager Andrew Davies, from Cleobury Mortimer Fire Station, said they would be on site until late in the evening. "We had up to five pumps at first because of the danger of it spreading to the corn store next door, but that scaled down to three and now we have two," he said.

"You can't do a lot during the night time with it being dark – you just have to stop the fire from spreading.

"Fire investigation is on its way. The yard itself was empty at the time, and had been for at least two hours before the fire was spotted."

Shortly before the Middle House Farm fire broke out, 4,000 square metres of straw and stubble went up in flames in a field near Codsall.

Fire crews from Albrighton, Telford Central and Tweedale were called to the field in Codsall Wood at about 4pm on Tuesday and used beaters to put out the fire by about 4.30pm. The blazes follow five that took place at the start of August, including two barn fire arsons at Tong, near Shifnal, on August 2 and Hogstow, near Minsterley, on August 3.

That weekend there was also an accidental fire at Longswood Farm, Sleapwood, near Telford, that raged for 12 hours destroying 400 tonnes of straw, and two smaller hay and straw fires at Fenemere, near Baschurch, and Aston Road ,near to the Wrekin.

Oliver Cartwright, spokesman for Shropshire NFU, said: "It's a very busy time of year with hay and straw being removed from fields and stored, and left for long periods of time.

"We have had a few of these in recent months that the fire service have reported to us.

"It's devastating for any farm business, destroying crops, endangering livestock, damaging machinery and leaving the farmer with a massive clean-up operation," he added.

"If arson is an issue then there needs to be a decent standard of security for out-buildings and if people have suspicions or information I would advise them to pass them to police.

"But a fire can be from multiple causes, whether hay is too close to machinery or lights or it could be spontaneous combustion due to climatic conditions.

"Farmers do make every effort to protect crops and buildings, but some fires can't be avoided."

Sorry, we are not accepting comments on this article.


Top stories


More from Shropshire Star

UK & International News