A HUGE barn fire in North Petherton which blazed all night is being treated as suspected arson.

Two fire crews with the water carrier from Bridgwater and one team from Taunton were sent to the scene in Hulkshay Lane, North Petherton, at 6.43pm on Sunday, following a call to the control room.

On arrival crews found the barn, around 20 metres by 5 metres, full of hay, which was well alight. Another fire crew from Bridgwater, two from Taunton and the Incident Command Unit from Cheddar were sent to help.

Crews dampened down the flames all night, but at 7.42am the following morning around five tonnes of hay were still alight.

Crews are still carrying out controlled burning. About ten tonnes of hay have been destroyed.

A police spokesman told the Mercury on Monday: “At the moment we are treating the fire as suspected arson, but the fire team is still investigating, so it has not been confirmed as arson.”

Farmer John Quick, whose family owns the land the barn is on, said: “There was a fire there around ten years ago and we believe that was arson. That time the flames reached above the barn.

“Hay burns slowly so it would have taken a long time to put out.

“It wouldn't surprise me to find this fire was started by someone too, even if it was an accident.”

“We're not sure about the financial loss of this current incident yet.”

Paul Roberts, who lives at Millbay, North Petherton, told the Mercury: “I live about 400metres away across a field and the smoke was blowing straight at us.

“We had to keep all doors and windows closed to keep the smell out of the house.

“This is the second time in about 11 years that this barn has been set on fire.”

The Mayor of North Petherton, Cllr Alan Bradford, said: “The fire crew was still there the next morning.

“When it started the flames got very high and I think all the contents of the barn were destroyed.”