‘Discarded cigarette’ set fire to 20 straw bales on a tractor trailer

The straw bales burst into flames while the tractor was on a main road

Fire crews were called to a massive fire involving 20 straw bales that closed a main road.

Police were told that the fire, which brought traffic on the A396 between Bickleigh and Tiverton to a standstill, may have been caused by a cigarette after a trailer being puller by a tractor burst into flames.

Our colleagues at Devon Live say a police officer at the scene has suggested somebody may have thrown the cigarette into the trailer while it was in traffic.

Two fire crews from Tiverton and Cullompton were dispatched after Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service were notified to reports at around 4pm.

Crews confirmed the tractor to be well alight, and got work with two hose reel jets. Police were also in attendance.

A spokesman for the Fire and Rescue Service said: “Crews confirmed approximately 20 large bales were on fire on the public highway.

“Crews used two hose reel jets and two attack jets, supplied from nearby hydrant to extinguish the fire.”

According to reports, fire fighters have begun loading another trailer with the debris from the fire to take the load to a nearby farm.

Hay bales on fire on the A396 (Image: Devon Live)

The farmer – Rob Harris from Middle Hill farm – has said that he got into traffic coming back from Bickleigh and thinks the only way this could have happened is that somebody “threw a fag end in”.

Sister Emma Harris said the bales were being brought back from Silverton to be used for bedding down cows.

“My dad was following in tractor with bales on it and noticed a few flames when they got to Ashley tip,” she told our source.

“They thought they could get into Ashley and knock off the bale that was on fore so Dad rang me to get the extinguisher but by the time I got there the whole thing was on fire.

“We left it to burn and rang the fire brigade. It’s just one of those horrible things – at least nobody was hurt.”

Fire fighter Nigel Palk said straw bale fires were quite common this time of year and warned any drivers spotting a burning trailer to stay well back.

“It can burn quite fiercely so it’s best to stay well back and call the emergency services,” he added.

“In this case we are unsure of the cause – they were transporting the straw back to the form when it ignited.”