Mystery over Leeds Temple Newsam farm blaze UPDATED

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An investigation is under way after a blaze ripped through a 200-year-old building at Temple Newsam’s historic Home Farm, killing a number of baby animals.

The fire, which took hold early yesterday morning (November 23) is the second time part of the popular Leeds attraction has been in flames in less than a year.

The incident scene. PIC: Mark Bickerdike

The incident scene. PIC: Mark Bickerdike

Around a dozen pigs and piglets were killed in the incident, which was reported just before 5am yesterday.

Fire investigation officers have been working to establish what caused the latest blaze but have not ruled out an arson attack. Council officials say the farm will be shut until further notice.

The YEP was on the scene early yesterday and was shown the charred wreckage of the two-storey listed building, which had served as a home to both a number of sows and their piglets and part of the farms’s museum section.

Quick-thinking fire crews were able to save a number of guinea pigs and rabbits and contain the flames.

Station commander Mick Wood, who was in charge of tackling the incident, told the YEP: “We managed to stop the fire from spreading to the other buildings and contain it to the front section of the building – if we hadn’t got in there so quickly, it would have spread because the timbers are 200 years old.

“Some of the smaller animals we were able to rescue, but unfortunately a number of other animals have died.”

Bravery

“It’s a shame because I’m sure every kid in Leeds has been around this farm at some stage.”

Yesterday’s fire is the second to shut the farm down this year.

As reported in the YEP, the farm was forced to close for a week following a blaze which destroyed a large hay barn on January 23. Police established that the fire was started deliberately but nobody was ever charged.

A Leeds City Council spokesman said: “Unfortunately a number of animals which could not be rescued from the cow byre and bothy building sadly died. These were two Berkshire sows and their litters of 16 piglets, along with 14 rabbits and two young chicks.

“The loss of these animals is very sad and distressing news, but we would also like to pay tribute to the efforts of the West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service and Leeds City Council staff who successfully rescued many more animals.

“The building itself is of great historical importance as it is one of the original farm buildings which dates back to the 19th century. It also contained historic farm equipment and machinery much of which unfortunately has been lost in the fire.

“A full investigation is being carried out along with a structural check on the buildings. A decision is likely to be taken later this week as to when Home Farm can reopen to visitors.”

A West Yorkshire Police spokesman said: “Police and investigators from the Fire Service are conducting a detailed examination of the scene.

“Anyone with information should contact Stainbeck CID via 101 or by calling Crimestoppers, anonymously and in confidence, on 0800 555 111.”

Parts of the historic farm date back to 1694. It is the largest working rare breeds farm in Europe.