Baldock family ‘will struggle for the rest of the year’ after devastating barn fire

The Oakley's barn at Halfway Farm in Bygrave Road was destroyed by a fire on Saturday.

The Oakley's barn at Halfway Farm in Bygrave Road was destroyed by a fire on Saturday. - Credit: Archant

A family from Baldock who had their barn set on fire at the weekend have said the devastating blaze will leave them struggling for the rest of the year.

The barn was housing around 200 tonnes of hay.

The barn was housing around 200 tonnes of hay. - Credit: Archant

Jenny Oakley was at home not far from the land she rents at Halfway Farm in Bygrave Road when a horseowner, who also uses the land, came running over and alerted them to the blaze shortly before 6.20pm.

“My relatives had come over and we were in the living room just up from the farm, and the girl said a couple of bales were alight near the top of the barn.

“When we got there they were all on fire, so we think whoever did it climbed up to the top of the bales.

“My husband Mark was out dealing with some fly-tipping, and we think it was after the last horseowner went and the next one came – so it looks like there was a window of about 20 minutes when no one was around and they just seized what they saw as an opportunity.”

The hay is an important part of their business and the fire will have a big impact.

The hay is an important part of their business and the fire will have a big impact. - Credit: Archant


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Mr and Mrs Oakley have run their farming business for 26 years, and the barn was three quarters of the way full – with 200 tonnes of hay ready to be purchased by buyers they have contracts with, including a pet food supplier.

The couple – who also live with daughter Laura, 24, and their 21-year-old son James – said they will now struggle because they can’t honour contracts.

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She said: “We are devastated, because it is a lot of hard work and it means it’s for nothing.

“We provide customers with a quality product you can’t just buy anywhere. From a business point of view we will struggle for the rest of the year.

The Oakley's barn was completely destroyed.

The Oakley's barn was completely destroyed. - Credit: Archant

“The weather this year hasn’t helped, because it’s been so hot, it’s really hard to grow grass.

“We employ staff to work and it will all have a knock on effect on everything.

“Hay and straw is a big part of what we do – it’s for the pet food industry, for horses and for power stations – now customers will go elsewhere.

“There were horses in the field where the barn is and they had to be moved to safety. They weren’t injured but they were distressed.

“The children are devastated too, they’re really upset. They’ve posted about it on Facebook and it’s been shared 300 times.”

Mrs Oakley, who is speaking with police about the fire, said there were a group of boys spotted around the area at the time.

To those who are responsible, she added: “They need to realise what they’re doing is extremely dangerous and it could have been so much worse.”

If you have information call Herts police on 101.

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