A HAMPSHIRE barn has been gutted after a major blaze which saw more than 40 firefighters called into action.

Investigations are underway into the cause of the fire, which threatened to spread across Avington Manor Farm, near Alresford, yesterday afternoon.

More than 200 cattle had to be moved to safety, as fire crews battled to stop the flames spreading and prevent on site propane cylinders exploding.

As the fire raged on for several hours, there were two large explosions, which threw flames and debris 20 feet into the air.

The blaze produced a plume of thick, black smoke, which could be seen from Winchester five miles away.

Officers donned oxygen-equipment before entering the building, the corrugated roof of which is believed to have contained asbestos.

They also extended the ladder from one of the fire engines so they could be levered up above the flames, and removed doors from the barn next to the fire.

At least four water jets were aimed at the heart of the inferno as firefighters fought to bring it under control.

While local residents diverted traffic away from the farm, which is both dairy and arable.

A spokesperson for Hampshire Constabulary said: "It's obviously an agricultural site and one of the barns is on fire.

"It's happened so quickly we're not even sure how it all started yet.

"We think there are hazardous materials on site so we've cordoned off the road in both directions.

"No animals have been hurt and no people have been reported to have been harmed, but ambulance crews are on standby."

Avington Manor Farm is in the lane between the A31 dual carriageway and the village of Avington.

It is both a dairy and arable, with cows housed at the farm during the winter.


Daily Echo:

Firefighters seem to be holding back the majority of the flames. At least four jets can be seen tackling the blaze.