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PHOTOS: Fire service advice after 700 hay bales destroyed in fire

PUBLISHED: 08:46 30 July 2014 | UPDATED: 08:46 30 July 2014

The scene of the fire in Holsworthy yesterday (Tues, July 29) Pic: Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service.

The scene of the fire in Holsworthy yesterday (Tues, July 29) Pic: Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service.

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Six crews were scrambled to the large barn fire yesterday (Tuesday) involving hay bales and asbestos.

The scene of the fire in Holsworthy yesterday (Tues, July 29) Pic: Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service. The scene of the fire in Holsworthy yesterday (Tues, July 29) Pic: Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service.

THE fire service has issued a safety plea to farmers storing hay after a huge blaze in Holsworthy yesterday (Tuesday) involving 700 hay bales.

Residents were asked to stay indoors with their doors and windows shut after fire fighters battling the flames confirmed a volume of asbestos was also involved.

With toxic smoke pouring from the barn, it took six crews more than five hours to bring the blaze under control, with the barn and hay bales completely destroyed.

It is understood the fire was started by self ignition of the bales at Ratherton Farm, and was reported shortly after 7.15am.

The scene of the fire in Holsworthy yesterday (Tues, July 29) Pic: Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service. The scene of the fire in Holsworthy yesterday (Tues, July 29) Pic: Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service.

A spokesman for Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service said: “Generally, one of the areas of high risk is when dry and wet hay meets.

“The heat and humidity from the wet hay react with the dry hay and the insulation provided by the stack can allow a fire to start.

“Research suggests that most problems with spontaneous combustion start within the two weeks of the hay being stored, although combustion is still possible for a further six weeks.

“If your hay is a little too wet or green, you should start checking the stack after two days and continue daily for two weeks.

“The best way to check whether bales are overheating is to insert an extendable temperature probe or a thermometer on the end of some string into the middle of the bales.”

The fire was one of a number reported in the last week – on Saturday 80 bales of hay were involved in a fire which saw four crews scrambled to Winkleigh.

And on Wednesday, July 23, crews were called out to Pancrasweek near Holsworthy to attend to 400 bales of hay reported to be smouldering.

The fire service has issued the following advice to farmers:

• Try not to bale hay that is a too wet or green

• Stack small rectangular bales on their narrow (on edge) side

• Stack wetter, greener or heavier bales on the outside

• Allow plenty of ventilation within the stack

• Regularly check the stack and its temperature just after storage

• Store Agro chemicals separate from hay where possible.

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