‘It sounded like machine-guns going off’: Fareham family describes horror of barn blaze

SHOCKED neighbours living next to a barn that was engulfed by an enormous straw bale blaze said the immense inferno sounded like ‘machine-guns going off’.

Thursday, 17th January 2019, 1:49 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th February 2019, 5:37 pm
A fire at a barn in Spurlings Farm, Spurlings Road, Fareham, took place around 8pm on Wednesday January 16. Pictures taken at the scene on Thursday January 17. Picture: Sarah Standing (170119-6319)

The devastating fire ripped through a barn at Spurlings Farm, near Fareham, on Wednesday night, with towering flames visible from the M27.

It was so ferocious that at its peak there were 25 firefighters from across the area battling to contain the blaze and stop it spreading.

Tony Aubrey lives next door to the barn with his wife Mary-Rose and their daughter, Tania, and was left startled by the fire, which ignited at about 8pm.

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A fire at a barn in Spurlings Farm, Spurlings Road, Fareham, took place around 8pm on Wednesday January 16. Pictures taken at the scene on Thursday January 17. Picture: Sarah Standing (170119-6319)

The 77-year-old retired builder, of Spurlings Road, said: ‘The first thing we heard was the crack of something that sounded like machine-guns firing off; it was the asbestos in the barn exploding.

‘The neighbours came rushing over to us to ask if we were okay because they heard the noise.’

Mary-Rose, 69, was stunned by the intensity of the blaze, which had 20ft flames that blasted their way through the barn – which was metres away from their family home of five years.

She said: ‘It was pretty dramatic. We were just settling down to watch TV and then we heard this massive banging going off outside.

Tony Aubrey, 77, and his wife Mary-Rose Aubrey, 69, of Sprulings Road. They lived next door to the barn that was ravaged by fire.

‘When we pulled back the curtains and saw the fire I just thought: “Oh my god, what’s happening”. It was a huge shock.

‘The firefighters were hosing the house and trees off to keep them cool and stop them from burning.’

A total of 35 firefighters from Cosham, Southsea, Wickham, Fareham, Droxford and Havant battled through the night to control the blaze.

It is understood at least 1,000 bales were destroyed in the incident. A small fire was still burning in the barn this morning.

A fire at a barn in Spurlings Farm, Spurlings Road, Fareham, took place around 8pm on Wednesday January 16. Pictures taken at the scene on Thursday January 17. Picture: Sarah Standing (170119-6320)

Boarhunt-based dairy farmer Andrew Malyon, owner of the straw, was frustrated by the blaze, which he believed was sparked deliberately.

‘It was quite shocking to see the fire,’ said Mr Malyon, who is the chairman of Hampshire National Farmers’ Union. ‘We were lucky though, there were no animals in the barn and nobody was hurt.

‘But it is not the first time that this has happened. We think it’s an arson.

‘It’s annoying but there’s nothing we can do. It’s situated very close to the public, on a country road and not in the middle of a farm.

‘So it is something we thought could happen. We have caught children in there at different times before this.’

Fareham crew manager Martin Earl was among those at the scene of the blaze and said he had no idea how the fire started.

‘Due to the nature of the fire we are having to let it burn which is a bit of a nightmare, so we’ve had crews doing shifts throughout the night and this morning,’ he added. ‘There’s a house nearby we had to make sure that was safe.

‘No-one was injured and all animals were OK. There were no items damaged or lost in the fire.’

Investigations are now set to be carried out as to how the fire started.