Video: Blaze forces closure of historic Leeds Temple Newsam Farm UPDATED

Temple Newsam's historic farm will be closed for the week as investigations into a suspected arson attack continue.

Council bosses have decided to shut down the popular tourist attraction for the remainer of the week following the huge blaze, which broke out in a hay barn at the farm just before 7pm on Sunday.

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An off-duty firefighter out walking his dog is understood to have alerted colleagues to the fire.

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Firefighters then spent several hours battling to save dozens of pregnant cows which were being housed in an adjoining building as they successfully fought to contain the blaze.

Crews from Gipton, Stanks, Garforth, Leeds, Hunslet and Stanningley were called and managed to save around 80 rare-breed cattle.

Station Commander Andrew Alderson said: "I can't praise the firefighters enough for the job they did ensuring the cattle were removed from harm's way.

"They also managed to contain the fire to one half of the building. It was a fantastic effort all round."

The cattle, many of which were pregnant, included breeds such as Beef

Shorthorn, Belted Galloway, Gloucester, Kerry, Red Poll, Shetland, Vaynol and White Park.

No other animals are believed to have been harmed.

Firefighters were still at the scene yesterday and today, and had been using water pumped from nearby Temple Newsam Lake to dampen down the scene.

They are expected to remain there for the next few days.

The YEP was on the scene until late on Sunday night as crowds of concerned animal-lovers and residents – some braving the cold wearing just pyjamas – gathered to watch as plumes of smoke filled the sky and the flames cast an orange glow which could be seen from the nearby motorway.

Specialist fire investigation officers have since been at the farm looking into what may have triggered the blaze.

But firefighters on the scene told the YEP they were working on the

assumption that the barn had fallen victim to a possible arson attack and believed local youngsters may have been involved.

Parts of the historic farm date back to 1694, with some of the more modern buildings added by the council in the 1920s.

It is the largest working rare breeds farm in Europe, with more than 400 animals including cattle, pigs, sheep, goats and poultry.

A Leeds City Council spokesman told the YEP: "Several animals were moved to safety and neither livestock nor people have been hurt.

"Temple Newsam Farm will be closed for the rest of this week."

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