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Fire crews still on scene of 'horrendous' blaze affecting hay bales, tyres and farm machinery

PUBLISHED: 07:04 08 September 2019 | UPDATED: 13:49 08 September 2019

Firefighters are at the scene of a 'commercial building' fire in Southgate, near Aylsham. Picture: Archant

Firefighters are at the scene of a 'commercial building' fire in Southgate, near Aylsham. Picture: Archant

Archant

Firefighters remain at the scene of a large blaze affecting hay bales, tyres and farm machinery - more than 12 hours after it broke out.

Firefighters are still at the scene of a 'commercial building' fire in Southgate, near Aylsham. Picture: ArchantFirefighters are still at the scene of a 'commercial building' fire in Southgate, near Aylsham. Picture: Archant

Smoke was been seen billowing from Southgate, between Reepham and Aylsham on Saturday afternoon.

And more than 12 hours later, crews are still dealing with the blaze, with two crews remaining on scene overnight dampening the tyres which were involved.

Residents living in Corpusty - nearly ten miles away - yesterday reported being able to see the thick black smoke, while another in Cawston said the fire looked "horrendous".

Station manager John Baker, based at North Walsham fire station, added: "At about 4.30pm we were mobilised to a large fire in the open - what we thought would probably be a field fire.

"When the first crew arrived they found it was actually a haystack fire at a farm. The stack was well alight and there must have been around 200 bails of straw in that stack.

"There was also a number of old tyres on fire and two bailers have been destroyed as well.

"We will probably be here up until about midnight dampening down, I should think. The farmer's been really cooperative, assisting us with a teleporter."

He added: "We'll probably have to get some relief crews in later.

"We did initially ask residents to close doors and windows. It's died down a lot now but there was such a big plume and obviously we don't want that affecting people.

"We can't rule out that it's been deliberately started but there will be an investigation into that. It's had a big effect on the farmer, the surrounding community and obviously the fire service is tied up for a long time when we need resources elsewhere."

Four fire crews and a water carrier are currently at the scene, and Birds Lane has been closed.

A spokesman said: "We are currently dealing with a significant fire in the Cawston area with a large smoke plume. We advise all residents in the area to close all windows and doors."

Phillip Leeder, who spent 37 years in Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service and lives nearby, said: "I saw the thick black smoke and realised it was quite a substantial fire.

"The area was cordoned off so I took some photos as close as I could get from the road.

"It looks like a hay stack fire close to some farm buildings and, from initial, observation it looked like quite a severe fire due to the thick plumes.

"From my experience they will be there for a while. The normal procedure is to protect the surrounding area because really you can't put out a stack fire."

Five pumps from Reepham, Aylsham, Fakenham, Carrow and Sprowston attended, plus a water carrier from Fakenham.

Appliances from Reepham and Aylsham and the water carrier from Fakenham have remained at the scene.

A spokesman for Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service initially said the blaze was at a "commercial building" but it is now understood to have affected a number of hay bales, tyres and some farm machinery, near some farm buildings.

As of 6.47am, Sunday morning, two crews remained in attendance, dampening the scene down and providing relief watch, with neighbours still advised to keep windows and doors closed.

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