A BARN containing 4,000 tons of straw has been destroyed following a blaze at a farm near Wimborne.

Shortly before 10am fire crews were scrambled to Chilbridge Pig Farm.

Julian Lockwood, station manager at Dorset Fire and Rescue Service, said a large barn and approximately 4,000 tons of straw were completely destroyed.

He said: “Two crews from Poole and one crew from Wimborne arrived and found the barn well-alight. A caravan by the side of the barn had been engulfed by time they got here.”

Farm worker Steve Bellows, who raised the alarm, said he parked a small tractor inside the barn shortly before the fire began.

He said: “I went to check on some of the pigs. Ten minutes later it was completely alight. I couldn't believe it.”

It was the second serious barn fire Dorset firefighters have stood down from as they carry out eight consecutive days of strike action. In both instances on-call crews were drafted in to cover.

One on-call crew from Verwood was drafted in to cover while three regular crews stood down at 12pm.

Mr Lockwood said: “We have had contingency plans in place for this since Christmas. It is hard for us but it has worked really well.”

He added: “We are urging everyone to be aware of the strikes and take extra care.”

Bill Richards, owner of the farm, said: “I think they have done a good job. I would have been worried if no one was here but I don't feel we have been compromised due to the strike.”

Mr Lockwood said investigations are underway to establish the cause of the fire but it is not being treated as suspicious.

On Saturday, the first day of strike action, crews were called to a serious blaze at a barn near Marnhull, North Dorset.

Firefighters across Dorset are taking part in eight days of consecutive strike action amid a row with the government over pensions.

The national strike was called by Fire Brigade's Union as it continues to fight plans to raise the retirement age of firefighters from 55 to 60.

Permanent fire crews are due to strike between 12pm and 2pm and 10.59pm to 11.59pm every day until Saturday, August 16.