'Frightening' moment single spark turns into field fire menacing cottages

Fire crews attend the scene of a field fire in Wades Lanes, Chelmondiston. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brow

Fire crews attend the scene of a field fire in Wades Lanes, Chelmondiston. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

A single spark from a combine harvester became a 15-acre field fire that was threatening cottages within 30 minutes, a Suffolk farmer has said.

Richard Wrinch, who farms in Chelmondiston, described the "frightening" moment the blaze took hold, and thanked fire crews and neighbours who contained the blaze.

A total of 10 fire crews were called to Wades Lane in Chelmondiston near Shotley at around 2.30pm to deal with the field fire.

Fire crews attend the scene of a field fire in Wades Lanes, Chelmondiston. Richard Wrinch, owner of

Richard Wrinch, owner of the scorched land. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Mr Wrinch said: "It was frightening. We were literally in our last part field of wheat. Luckily the wind was blowing away from the combine and away from the crop.

"We think it was either a stone or possibly a bit of metal that got picked up and sparked. Everything is tinder dry."

Fire crews attend the scene of a field fire in Wades Lanes, Chelmondiston. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brow

Fire crews attend the scene of a field fire in Wades Lanes, Chelmondiston. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

From there, the fire caught hold in a hedgerow, jumped across a small track and started spreading towards a row of five cottages.

"It roared down the stubble towards the river," he said. "It was partly stopped by a field of potatoes, and all the fields down there have been combined so it didn't get to the cottages, thank heavens."

Fire crews attend the scene of a field fire in Wades Lanes, Chelmondiston. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brow

Fire crews attend the scene of a field fire in Wades Lanes, Chelmondiston. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

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Mr Wrinch thanked several of his neighbours who arrived on the scene quickly and used farm machinery to help make firebreaks.

"Fingers crossed, touch wood – we're safe and sorted," he said.

Thanks to the joint effort of fire crews and local farmers, the damage was contained to 15 acres of scorched land around half a mile of burnt hedgerow. However, Mr Wrinch estimated the blaze got within 50 metres of the row of five homes.

Fire crews attend the scene of a field fire in Wades Lanes, Chelmondiston. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brow

Fire crews attend the scene of a field fire in Wades Lanes, Chelmondiston. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Elsewhere in the county, on the same afternoon, firefighters extinguished a blaze in a 70-acre field of standing crops near Heath Road in Ixworth.

A total of 10 crews were sent to the scene from Diss, Sudbury, Long Melford, Wickhambrook, Bury St Edmunds, Ixworth, Mildenhall and Newmarket.

Fire crews attend the scene of a field fire in Wades Lanes, Chelmondiston. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brow

Fire crews attend the scene of a field fire in Wades Lanes, Chelmondiston. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown