Fire service launch investigation after engine blunder delays blaze response

Damaged caused at High Ashes Farm in Ashover.
Damaged caused at High Ashes Farm in Ashover.

Derbyshire fire service has launched an investigation after claims that three of its engines were delayed getting to a blaze which ripped through a building at a family farm.

The fire broke out at an outbuilding at High Ashes Farm, Highashes Lane, Ashover, at about 4am on Saturday (August 13).

However fire bosses were left red faced after claims the first engine got stuck in the main entrance to the farm. A second engine drove past the farm and had to reverse down a lane in darkness, blocking the path of a third engine which had tried to reach the farm from the opposite side.

“I was just in disbelief,” said Philip Coates, 51, who owns the farm. “I could not believe it. I totally respect the fire service but there was something not quite right - there was an unfortunate mix-up.”

Mr Coates believes half the building might have been saved, if crews had arrived quicker.

The blaze on Saturday is the second in a matter of months at the family home. Five assistance dogs used by the High Ashes Rural Project - a Community Interest Company run from the farm which helps people with learning disabilities - were killed. Two cats also died in the blaze in March. Luckily, two cats escaped the outbuilding blaze this time.

Following the first fire, Mr Coates converted the now gutted building into a kitchen, a work station and storage . The outbuilding also contained personal belongings and items that had been replaced.

Mr Coates and his wife Vanessa, 47, have been living in a caravan since the first blaze for repair work at their home.

“At first my wife thought it was hail hitting the roof but then we looked outside and the outbuilding was on fire.” Mr Coates said.

A spokesman for Derbyshire Fire & Rescue Service said: “On Saturday, August 13 at 4.17am, Derbyshire Fire & Rescue Service responded to a call reporting an ‘outbuilding fire’ at High Ashes Farm, Ashover.

“In responding, one fire engine was involved in a minor accident involving a large stone gatepost, however this did not adversely affect firefighting operations.

“As is normal procedure for any accident, this minor incident is being investigated by the service.”

The fire is believed to have been started by an electrical fault.