A BLAZE broke out near Royal Wootton Bassett yesterday afternoon gutting an asbestos-filled barn and workshop on farmland.

Firefighters were called to Old Park Farm in Vastern at 12.55pm to what was originally described as a barn fire. However, on arrival they discovered the flames had spread to a workshop.

Both buildings contained asbestos and posed a risk to crews.

A Wiltshire Fire and Rescue spokesman said firefighters would have to wear protective suits as they edged closer to the flames.

A number of gas cylinders, including acetylene and liquid gas petroleum, were involved in the fire, and a 200m safety cordon was immediately put in place.

A total of eight fire crews were sent out from Swindon, Westlea, Cricklade, Calne, Marlborough, Chippenham and Malmesbury to tackle the blaze. They were supported by a water carrier from Ramsbury and an incident command vehicle from Stratton.

Water was pumped from a hydrant at the nearby Hunting Villa Farm, off Hunts Mill Road. Owner Nick Hussey said stacks of hay at Old Park Farm would make crews’ task extremely difficult.

“There is a lot of hay there,” he said. “And it has all gone up.

“Initially I thought it was my stables that were on fire. There are a lot of adjoining farm buildings down there and if the whole thing goes up it would be a disaster.

“The firefighters used water from the ground here. It’s lucky because there was no means to get enough water up there. It’s so far away from the beaten track.”

He added: “With all this rain we have had recently, it has happened on a dry day.

“I know one of the owners. I saw her on the High Street and she said there was a fire at their farm. She had gone to pick up her kids.”

Liz Eastgate, of Ballards Ash, said thick black smoke could be seen from the High Street.

“We could see it from our house,” she said.

“There was some really black smoke and it has been burning for ages. It is strange to have a barn fire in this weather; everything is so damp.

“The smoke was just going on earlier. It didn’t seem to be stopping at all. Fortunately the wind is blowing the other way.”

The cause of the fire is not yet known.