A FIRE chief has praised the community who rallied round following a fire at a hay shed at a farm in the Slemish Mountain area on Saturday night.
Ballymena District Commander Colin Dickson said twenty-five firefighters were at Ballynulto Road for almost eight hours into the early hours of Sunday.
He said: “We got the call around 8.25pm last night and I was there for most of the night myself.
“We had four fire engines from the surrounding area attending and a water tanker which came from Dungiven. That would have been 25 firefighters in attendance.
“It was a hay shed on a farm that was on fire. I left the fire at about 2.30am/3am and it was determined after that that it started accidentally.
“The first appliances were on the scene around 8.30pm and the last appliance left at 4.05am.
“It was a fairly large fire, the difficulty was it was an awful lot of hay in a shed so rather than being a large fire it was a difficult fire.
“The barn itself was fairly well isolated from the rest of the farm buildings and there was no danger of it spreading.
“There were no reports of any injuries.
“It was just a difficult and awkward fire from our point of view. Firefighters had to endure some fairly difficult and challenging conditions just because of the wind and smoke produced by the burning hay.
“There were two or three local farmers all pitched in to help with their farm machinery so that was obviously a fantastic community effort and is to be applauded.
“They used their telehandlers to take the hay out while the firefighters hosed it down and dumped it in the yard. The problem with hay is it burns deep and burns in the middle and if you put water on it it just comes off the surface so you need to dig it out.
“The choice was to either dig it out by hand which could have easily taken days with the amount of hay there was or else the teamwork with the farmer, under the supervision of the Fire Service, who was able to extract it for us and we were able to dampen it down.
“The barn was severely damaged”.
It is understood a large amount of hay was lost in the fire but how much it was worth has not emerged.