A LANDOWNER has spoken of his terror at seeing plumes of black smoke rising from his farm from several miles away.

Firefighters who attended the incident which left two vehicles destroyed, have described the string of events leading to the blaze as ‘freakish’.

Leslie Warbrick, 42, owner of Heys Acre Farm, in Foxen Dole Lane, Higham, had left the embers of wood-based waste burning in a brazier 30ft from his Transit mini van for half an hour while he worked in a neighbouring field.

When he returned, he saw the sky blackened with smoke and his van and Isuzu pick-up truck engulfed by flames, just feet away from his family’s home.

Using a fire extinguisher, Mr Warbrick braved the intense heat and attempted to tackle the fire to salvage what was left of his truck, and put out the flames threatening his house.

He said: “I was so worried the house was going to go up as well. I had just filled the fuel tank of the van with petrol and it leaked everywhere.

“The heat was incredible but I had to try and save what I could.

“I’m so glad my two daughters were away from home.

“And if I hadn’t let my chickens out they would have been burned alive.

“I’m hoping the insurance will cover it now.”

Two fire crews from Padiham spent an hour and a half battling the blaze, mindful that the vehicles could have exploded.

Crew manager Darren Bowers said: “It’s freakish how it started, unusual and unfortunate.

“There were chickens running all over the place when we got there. We managed to get them all to safety.

“We think embers from the oil drum fire had been lifted 10 metres by the strong winds and landed on a sofa outside.

“This then set alight, and although it was 10 metres from the van, the heat caused an electrical fault, or something on the vehicle to catch fire, and the van went up.

“Then, either fuel leaked from the van and the fire travelled over to the pick-up truck, or the flames were blown 15ft over to it, and it then caught light.

“We would advise people to never leave a fire unattended, and even if it’s down to its last embers, make sure it’s totally extinguished.”