Farmer burned saving farm from arson attack

A farmer suffered burns to his face in a desperate attempt to save his farm from being wrecked by arsonists for a third time in just four years.

It took a team of six fire crews more than 40 hours to put out the blaze at Lanes Farm, on Pontefract Road in Ackworth after 300 tonnes of straw were set alight.

Lanes Farm in Ackworth - The aftermath of a farm fire which caused around two hundred thousand pounds worth of damage. Farmer Robert Attwood was also hurt in the fire. (P524U334)

Lanes Farm in Ackworth - The aftermath of a farm fire which caused around two hundred thousand pounds worth of damage. Farmer Robert Attwood was also hurt in the fire. (P524U334)

The fire completely destroyed a brand new lorry which had been bought for deliveries and caused around £200,000 of damage at the farm.

Robert Attwood, 48, was woken up at around 1.45am by the intensity of the blaze at his family farm on Thursday, August 15.

He said: “I think it was the brightness that woke me up. Originally I thought it was morning until I looked out of the window. I woke my son up, raced out and tried to save as much of the machinery we could.

“But the intensity of the flames got too much and I only managed to save a forklift and a trailer and that was about it.”

Police have now launched a major investigation into the arson attack which was thought to have started in a bale of hay stacked in the yard.

Mr Attwood grew up on the farm and took it on from his father 30 years ago. He works alongside his son Henry, 17, and nephew Joe.

He had hoped to pass on the family business to the next generation until the latest arson attack happened.

But he said: “I just don’t want to do it anymore and I’ve never felt like that before. When the first fire happened I just got on with it but we’ve had three in four years now and I genuinely don’t want to do it any more.

“But the problem is I’ve done this job for 30 years. It’s all I’ve ever done so if I do pack it in I don’t know what else I could do.

“I’m only carrying on because I’ve got to but I don’t want to at all.

Mr Attwood has been working around the clock during the harvest season and the family deliver hay and straw to customers across the country.

The fire completely destroyed a lorry, a trailer and a bailer along with around 300 tonnes of straw which were based in the yard.

Mr Attwood said: “As much as I’m devastated about my business, the worrying thing is how close my house is to where the fire was.

“I’ve got a daughter who is 15 and she does not want to come home at night. She has been staying at a friends because she is absolutely terrified.”

Pontefract Road was closed for two days owing to the blaze.

Anyone with information about the fire should contact West Yorkshire Police on 101.

Alernatively call Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.