Chicks saved after tractor explosion

PUBLISHED: 17:16 15 August 2007 | UPDATED: 21:46 29 May 2010

A TRACTOR burst into flames and caused absolute mayhem at a farm in Great Dunmow, last Wednesday. Farmer, Chris Askew, said: The tractor blew up; we are all devastated by what has happened. The tractor was in a barn containing 1200 turkey chicks when

A TRACTOR burst into flames and caused "absolute mayhem" at a farm in Great Dunmow, last Wednesday.

Farmer, Chris Askew, said: "The tractor blew up; we are all devastated by what has happened."

The tractor was in a barn containing 1200 turkey chicks when it caught on fire, but they were saved by quick thinking Dunmow firefighters who were first on the scene.

Mr Askew's wife had gone outside and seen smoking billowing out of the barn, when she called the fire service.

Arriving at Nevills Farm, Mile End Green, at 7.23pm, fierfighters could see the blaze underneath the locked doors of the barn.

Dunmow station officer, Keith Crow, said: "When we arrived we couldn't get access into the barn.

"The doors were electrically operated and the heat inside the building had melted all the wires, so the doors wouldn't open. We had to get them open by hand."

Assistant divisional officer Chris Noakes praised the firefighters for their efforts in getting the doors open when the mechanism had failed.

"First crews at the incident did very well to get the door open.

"Had they been unable to get in that way, there would have been greater risk to crews because we would have had to have committed firefighters into the building through a tiny door.

"This was the only other way in - and also posed a risk to the chicks because of the build up of heat and smoke," he said.

The barn was divided into two halves, one half containing a tractor, which was completely destroyed by fire, a 4 x 4 vehicle and tools which all suffered damage. In the other half was 1200 turkey chicks.

Originally two fire engines had been sent to deal with the incident, but due to a lack of water, two more had to be called in to tackle the blaze.

Eight firefighters from Dunmow, five from Thaxted and four from Leaden

Roding wearing breathing apparatus and using two hose reels had the fire under control by 9pm.

Shortly after 8pm, Mr Noakes said steady progress had been made in dealing with the fire and that a "salvage operation" was now underway to "protect the chickens involved in the incident."

Fortunately none of the birds were killed in the fire, despite facing a number of dangers.

Mr Noakes said: "We had to do some work to protect the chicks because water from firefighting operations was going into the area where they were located and also they were pecking at the soot and dust entangled in their feathers."

The chicks are still in the barn, thanks to the quick actions of the fire service, who stopped the blaze from spreading.

Fire investigation officers believe the cause of the fire may have been an electrical fault with the tractor.

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