AN arson investigation has been launched after more than 100 tonnes of hay and straw were destroyed in a barn fire.

Police are investigating the blaze at a farm in Stanley Pontlarge, Gretton, near Winchcombe, on Monday.

Almost 30 firefighters from Cheltenham battled to control the flames, after being called at 6.50pm.

Six crews used two water jets to tackle the blaze which was finally brought under control at about 5pm the following day. A spokesman for Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service said the incident is now in the hands of the police.

Sheep farmer Eddie Shey, aged 50, of Gretton, who rents the land, said about 200 large hay bales had gone up in smoke.

“The whole lot’s gone,” he said. “Unfortunately this time of year it was fairly full, the sheep have been out on the grass and I haven’t used much yet.

It was beautiful hay.

“I’m just grateful there weren’t any sheep in there. It would be nice if the police could catch them.” Mr Shey, who was set to start lambing in March, said he was lucky to have some kind neighbours.

“They’ve offered hay and one neighbour’s offered a lambing shed,” he said. “I was hoping to do a lot of lambing in there.”

Simon Masters, spokesman for Gloucestershire Police, confirmed an arson investigation has been launched but said he could not comment any further.

“A hay barn was set alight between 6.30pm and 7pm on Monday,” he said. “The barn and all of its contents have been destroyed.”

Anyone with information is asked to call police on 101 quoting incident number 380 of January 13.