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Farmers praised for ploughing fire breaks at huge Oxfordshire blaze

The fire wiped out three fields of barley after what the owner believed to be a combine spark. 

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Mr Wallis' field on Saturday after the fire.
Mr Wallis' field on Saturday after the fire.
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Local farmers praised for ploughing fire breaks at huge Oxfordshire blaze

Oxfordshire farmers have been praised this week for their efforts in helping to curb the damage caused by a 120-acre field fire.

The blaze wiped out three fields of barley on Saturday (July 14) at Ewelme Down Farm, near Wallingford, at 5.27pm after what owner Bernard Wallis believed to be a combine spark.

Rachel Wallis, who runs luxury glamping business The Chilterns View on her brother’s farm, said the response from local farmers – who ploughed fire breaks around the fields – was a lifeline.

She said: “I am very proud of our farmers; of the local community.

“Within half an hour we had five different farming families out here that came and brought their ploughs and water bowsers.”


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“They came here so quickly and protected next door’s indoor pig unit. Thousands of pigs could have burned to death.”

Ms Wallis said the farmers also prevented the fire reaching the on-site flammables, and the straw bales perched in front of the farmhouse.

 

Challenging

“The fire crew was struggling with the load so with the help of the farmers it stopped the spread and contained the fire,” she added. “They said it would have been a lot worse had they not been here.

“You wait all year to bring in your harvest but these farmers stopped theirs to come and make sure we were okay.”

Thames Valley Fire Control Service said at the height of the incident a total of 10 fire engines plus support vehicles were used, with back up from Didcot, Wallingford, Buckinghamshire and Royal Berkshire fire stations.

It said the blaze was ‘very challenging’.

Group manager Dave Bray, who attended the scene, said the team was ‘aided greatly by the local farmers, who upon identifying the presence of fire immediately commended creating fire breaks around the outside of fields by ploughing through the crop.

“Fortunately this helped us in preventing the fire spreading to a nearby pig farm, as well as to other buildings,” he added.

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