Balloon passengers spotted burning building

Unknown-2Firefighters raced to the scene of a blaze after they were tipped off by sightseers – enjoying a ride in a HOT AIR BALLOON.

Pilot Arthur Street and his 16 passengers were 2,000 feet in the air when they saw a plume of smoke billowing from a farm building. When they took a closer look through binoculars they could see huge flames erupting from the remote property in Hele, Devon.

Quick-thinking Arthur radioed in to nearby Exeter Airport to pass on details of the fire which took hold at 8pm Sunday.

Three Fire Service confirmed that three tenders were sent to a wooded area at Hele after the blaze broke out in an outbuilding.

One of the passengers, Kevin Jones, from Willand, said: “We took off from Rockbeare and were flying towards Hele and spotted smoke. First thoughts were that it was from the mill but as we got closer realised it was further over than the mill and that it was a big fire.”

Kevin, who works as a self-employed chimney sweep, said: “It was too big to be a bonfire or chimney fire – chimney fires are quite common this time of the year at the end of the winter season.

“At one point it looked as though the trees had caught fire as well as the building. The pilot contacted Exeter airport as we were under their control and they called the emergency services.

“By the time we flew over the fire thankfully it had started to die down. We enjoyed the rest of our lovely flight and landed at Chettiscombe.”

Crews from Cullompton, Middlemoor and Danes Castle found a single storey brick-built shed alight. They put out the fire before it spread but the building was severely damaged.