Fire rips through barn and leaves farmer in a '˜nightmare'

A fire which ripped through a barn near Arundel yesterday has left a farmer in a '˜nightmare'.

Alex Lock, 48, has worked at the farm for the last 30 years. Picture: Eddie Mitchell
Alex Lock, 48, has worked at the farm for the last 30 years. Picture: Eddie Mitchell

Fire crews were called to the blaze in Blakehurst Farm, in Warningcamp near Arundel at 7.40am yesterday (March 23), which is now being treated as an arson attack.

Alex Lock, 48, has worked at the farm in Blakehurst Lane for the last 30 years and said the ‘family-run’ farm has ‘covered generations’.

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He said: “It’s a nightmare and disrupts everything. The whole barn will have to be dismantled and rebuilt, it was only put up in 2011.

Fire crews tackled the blaze yesterday. Picture: Eddie Mitchell

“It just doesn’t make sense, it only had straw in it and all evidence is now burnt. It is just one of those disruptions you could do without.”

Mr Lock added that there was no ‘malicious’ reason for someone to deliberately set the barn on fire, but it was something he ‘could not prevent’.

He said: “It is completley unknown. I have never seen any kids in the barn or anyone going in there for a cigarette.

“If someone wants to walk in an open barn, what can you do. You can’t stop it, it is a remote barn, people can go through the trees.

The blaze, which is being treated as an arson attack, ripped through the whole barn. Picture: Eddie Mitchell

“I hope the insurance will cover it – we have had issues with flytipping so we have to make sure the gates are always locked, but you don’t expect someone to set fire to it.

“I have never heard of anything similar in the area, perhaps it is a one off.”

A spokesman from West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service said 100 tons of straw had been destroyed in the fire, which Mr Lock confirmed was ‘six months worth or more’.

Mr Lock said someone had reported the fire between 7.00am and 7.30am yesterday, but ‘a lot had burnt down’ at this point and it was believed the fire went up between midnight and 1am.

He confirmed no one was injured in the blaze.

The longstanding tenant at the farm, which is owned by Angmering Park Estate, said the barn ‘must be rebuilt’ in time for harvest this summer.

He added: “This will hopefully be do-able, some of my farmer friends have offered me straw, I hope it will all be ok in the end.”

If anyone witnessed the blaze or has any information, please contact the police on 101.

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