Quick-thinking fire crews have been praised for saving the lives of 16 cattle after an arson attack destroyed a barn near Daventry.
The fire, which is being treated as suspicious, engulfed a barn at Malabar Farm on Badby Road West and was in danger of spreading to adjoining buildings where the livestock was being kept.
When firefighters arrived on the scene they immediately let the animals out so they could run free to safety. Their actions have been commended by workers at the farm.
Farmhand Adrian Conopo said: “I can’t praise the fire service highly enough. Without their quick response and action, the cattle would have been lost without a doubt.
“There were 16 calves, each one worth £700 or £800, in the buildings next door to the barn. They were in danger not just from the fire spreading but from all the smoke.
“The firefighters did an absolutely wonderful job to save all the animals.”
Several appliances were called out to the fire on Friday night, which started around 7.30pm and destroyed the brick-built barn and an estimated 60 tonnes of straw.
After being contained, the fire finally burned itself out on Monday. The owners of the 1,000-acre farm are now waiting to assess the true cost of the damage.
The barn roof was made from asbestos and the scene of the fire is now fenced off until any potentially dangerous materials can be safely removed by specialist contractors.
Mark Coles, who works for the farm’s owner, said: “The cattle certainly had a lucky escape. If the wind had been blowing in a different direction, the fire might have spread to the adjoining buildings before the animals could have been saved.
“By the time I got there, everything was well alight. The fire service definitely did the right thing by letting the cattle out when they did.
“The straw kept at the farm was very dry so it’s no wonder it went up like a tinderbox. The barn is badly damaged and will be demolished.”
The flames were visible from a long distance and the emergency services received “multiple” calls from members of the public, including several drivers on the Daventry bypass.
The exact cause of the fire is unknown at this stage but a spokesperson for Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service said it was “deliberate”.
There are also unconfirmed reports from eyewitnesses of people running away from the scene around the time the fire broke out.
Northants police are asking anyone who may have information about the fire to contact them on 101 or, anonymously, via Crimestoppers, on 0800 555111.