Homes had to be evacuated as flames threatened to consume houses as a crop fire raged out of control in Wakefield this week, eye witnesses said.
VIDEO: Fire crews battling huge crop fire at WakefieldThe blaze broke out in the fields below Sandal Castle on Wednesday afternoon and ravaged 14 acres of winter wheat within minutes.
At one point the flames were so high and intense they began to melt the first floor guttering on homes on the Portobello estate’s Duke of York Avenue just yards from the fields.
‘Flames reached the top of houses’, eye witnesses claim after devastating field fire in WakefieldKielan Tierney, who lives on nearby Pugneys Road, helped evacuate the houses.
He said: “We were struggling to breathe because there was so much smoke on the street, it was that bad.
Field blaze was arson, fire service confirm“Most of the people had got out but there was one elderly lady who must have been in her 90s, we helped her get round the corner.
“One bit of that wheat coming through a window and the building would go up.”
The call was made to the emergency services at around 3.20pm on Wednesday and there were 10 fire engines battling the blaze at one point, including crews from Wakefield, Ossett, Castleford, Pontefract, Dewsbury, Skelmanthorpe, Dewsbury and Morley.
They were able to bring it under control within an hour, using beaters to prevent it spreading to adjacent fields, but an estimated £15,000 worth of damage had already been caused.
Chris Wagstaff, who farms the land, said: “I was at Nostell and I could see the flames from there.
“We were supposed to be combining it tomorrow (Thursday).The ground is so dry that the rain from the weekend has not touched it.
“It’s been a few years since the last fire - you put all this work into it and it’s due to be harvested then someone does this. It’s insured but that’s not the point. It’s devastating.”
The fire service has confirmed that the blaze was started deliberately and are continuing to investigate.
(pictures by KEITH souter, dave pickersgill AND ROSS WILSON PHOTOGRAPHY)