Police are investigating an arson attack on a barn in Southleigh, East Devon, which destroyed three antique tractors worth £35,000.
Officers believe the culprits could have set fire to the structure in the village near Colyton on Sunday night (April 11) after failing to steal the vintage vehicles.
Firefighters from Sidmouth, Seaton and Danes Castle in Exeter tackled the blaze at Wiscombe Farm, off Seaton Road.
Seaton’s crew was ‘saddened’ that a police ‘road closed’ sign and blue, flashing warning light – aimed at keeping emergency services safe – were stolen from the scene as they fought the flames.
A Devon and Cornwall Police spokesperson said: “Police investigating a suspicious barn fire near Southleigh, Colyton, in which three vintage tractors worth £35,000 were destroyed, are appealing for witnesses.
“It is believed the fire was started deliberately between 8pm and 10pm, on Sunday 11 April, at Wiscombe Farm, Seaton Road, Colyton.
“The owner of the tractors had checked the barn at about 8pm and it was locked and secured, but the barn was found to be well alight at about 10pm that night.
“Three antique tractors, worth more than £35,000, which were stored in the barn, were completely destroyed in the blaze.
“It is believed an attempt was made to take the tractors but, when that failed, the barn was set alight.
“Police are calling on anyone who was travelling along the road at around the time of the fire and may have seen anything suspicious, people or cars around this location, to come forward.
“If you witnessed the incident, or have any information that could help the police with their enquiries, please email police at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 101, quoting crime reference CR/028674/21.
“Alternatively, information can be passed anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 or via the charity’s website at www.crimestoppers-org.uk.”
A Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue spokesperson said: “Two fire appliances from Sidmouth along with the water bowser from Danes Castle, Exeter, were mobilised to reports of a barn on fire.
“On arrival at the incident, fire crews reported smoke and flames issuing from an agricultural building and requested a further appliance which was mobilised from Seaton.
“The building also contained three propane cylinders, one butane cylinder and one patio gas cylinder.”
Crews had the blaze under control by 1.45am and said the cause was deliberate.
Seaton Crew attended a barn fire last night and into the early hours and were initially tasked with ensuring firefighter safety and that of road users by closing the road,
A Seaton Fire Station spokesperson added: “We were saddened to discover that a police ‘road closed’ sign and a blue flashing warning light were stolen.
“This put firefighter safety in jeopardy and anyone who may have decided to venture down the road to the location of the extensive fire.
“This is vital safety equipment and critical to the safety of everyone at incidents like this.”