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Farm reeling from fire which caused £300,000 damage
A MASSIVE blaze at a farm near Porlock which took firefighters more than 24 hours to bring under control has caused at least £300,000 of damage.
A crew from Porlock arrived at Wilmersham Farm near Luccombe shortly after 3am on Tuesday to find three barns full of hay and straw engulfed in flames and needed back-up from three more fire engines.
The fire destroyed the barns and their contents, which included two tractors, an all-terrain vehicle 700 tonnes of hay and straw and 30 tonnes of corn, but no people or animals were injured.
Malcolm Westcott, 52, runs the farm, which has been in his family since his grandparents moved there in 1938. The first he knew of the fire was when the fire engine arrived.
He said: “We are devastated at the moment. Reality has hit but the shock of seeing it on the night was unbelievable.
“We managed to get all the livestock out, otherwise it could have been much worse. It’s going to be hard to replace the feed and bedding, as we are organic. It is heart-breaking that we have spent all summer getting the hay and straw in and now we have to start again.
“Hopefully everything will come together in the end but it’s going to be a few months before everything is sorted.
“We would like to thank the people who called the fire service on the night and everyone who has been so supportive since.”
The farm is part of National Trust-owned Holnicote Estate and both landlord and tenant farmer have insurance.
Andrew Laws, rural surveyor for the National Trust, said: “All cattle and sheep feed for the winter has been destroyed but there are lots of implications beyond that – for example, the water supply to the farmhouse has also been affected.
“It is going to be an expensive and complicated restoration but we are working with them to get it built again and to get Malcolm back on his feet.”
It is not clear what caused the fire but it is possible that after the wet summer, the hay self-ignited after high temperatures were reached within the bales.
Paul Slaven, of Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service, said: “There is nothing to indicate anything suspicious at this stage but officers are still investigating. It might be that the damage is so severe that the cause is indeterminate.”