‘It’s a farmer’s worst nightmare’: 40 tonnes of hay incinerated in huge West Sussex barn blaze

Forty tonnes of hay went up in flames in a huge barn fire in Wiston.

Tuesday, 17th August 2021, 11:43 am

James Wright, who runs the farm off Steyning Road, said the shocking inferno was a ‘farmer’s worst nightmare’.

James, who is a Horsham District councillor, said he is now facing a huge recovery operation to deal with the aftermath of the blaze, which happened on Sunday afternoon.

But miraculously James lost no animals or machinery in the blaze thanks to the heroic actions of his neighbour.

The scene of the inferno. Photo: James Wright

He said: “My neighbour saved all the cows and machinery.

“Thankfully the only thing that’s been lost is the barn and the winter seed.

“The farming community has been really good. We will be okay. We will recover. I’m just so grateful to my neighbour.”

Fire crews from around the county rushed to tackle the blaze including three fire engines from Worthing as well as equipment from Burgess Hill and Petworth.

The scene of the inferno. Photo: James Wright

The fire service said it was first called to the incident at 12.20pm on August 15 to reports of a barn on fire.

A spokesman added: “Joint Fire Control mobilised three fire engines from Worthing Fire Station to the scene along with further appliances and the water carriers from Burgess Hill and Petworth.

“Upon arrival they found a barn well alight and firefighters wearing breathing apparatus quickly got to work extinguishing the fire using two jets and a high pressure hosereel.”

Crews stayed on the scene into the afternoon turning over and damping down any remaining hotspots, he said. And relief crews were brought in from Burgess Hill, Horsham and Steyning to continue making the site safe.

The spokesman added: “Crews booked away from the incident shortly before 8pm, before returning to reinspect the scene to ensure there were no further signs of fire at 11pm.

“Fortunately there were no casualties as a result of this fire which is believed to have begun accidentally.”

And James praised the firefighters for their work battling the blaze.

He said: “I think we had half of West Sussex Fire there.

“They were great. They really are a very undervalued emergency service. I’m just very grateful to all of them – they have been fantastic.”