A FARMER who lost 120 tonnes of hay in a barn fire may have to sell some of his cattle to stay in business.
Firefighters could only look on as the blaze at Alistair Dobson’s farm in Bickley burned itself out.
The three-bay barn at Cross Lanes Farm caught light at 5.13pm on Sunday and the hay was so densely packed that water would have had little effect on it.
Mr Dobson, who was watching the Manchester United versus Chelsea football match when he realised something was wrong, said: ‘It will leave us in a difficult position as to what to feed the cows. Possibly later in the year we’ll have a fodder shortage and we may have to sell some.
‘The hay-making time is June and July so we’ll have to buy it in, but there aren’t many farmers willing to sell because of the wet weather.’
Mr Dobson may have lost up to 20% of his hay and could be faced with selling more than 20 of his 150 cows.
The wet summer has already damaged many farmers’ crops, and with the potential of Foot and Mouth Disease in the country along with reports of the UK’s first ever case of Bluetongue Disease in Ipswich, the situation is already tough for the industry.
Firecrews from both Malpas and Whitchurch turned out to the fire, and had to be relieved by an engine from Chester as the fire slowly burned itself out. It was still burning by 2am on Monday.
Crew manager Mark Beechey of Chester Fire Station said: ‘There was no business or property surrounding the barn and it was of steel construction so they left it to burn.
‘It will affect the steel so we carried out hourly risk assessments’
Firefighters have ‘no idea’ how the blaze started but Mr Dobson believes the hay may have been damp and self-combusted as it heated up.