The lives of more than 300 sheep were put at risk and a person had to go to hospital after a barn caught fire near Kingsbridge on Monday (March 6).

Nine fire crews were mobilised after a fire was reported in a barn in South Milton holding more than 300 sheep, together with bales of hay and straw.

The fire service was called at just before 1.30pm and sent two fire engines from Salcombe and Ivybridge, a water bowser from Plympton and two supporting officers.

After getting more information from the original caller along with travel times to the incident, fire control mobilised a third appliance from Totnes.

Once on scene, fire crews confirmed that bales of hay and straw were well alight and firefighters began moving the sheep from the barn.

An hour later, the message was sent to make pumps six for breathing apparatus. Three more appliances were sent from Greenbank, Kingsbridge and Dartmouth, along with an incident command unit from Honiton, a welfare unit from Crediton and a further three supporting officers.

By 3pm all of the sheep had been lead to safety but the hay and straw were still burning in the single storey barn, which measured around 30 x 30 metres.

Crews tackled the fire by splitting it into two sectors, and using breathing apparatus, 45mm hoses and one of the sectors also used a light portable pump and the water bowser.

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service confirmed that the sheep were saved, but that a man suffering from smoke inhalation was taken to hospital.

It also said that around half of the straw and bedding were damaged in the fire.

A spokesperson said: "This was a fire in a single storey agricultural barn measuring approx 30m by 30m, which contained 300 sheep along with hay and straw. Approximately 50 per cent of the straw and bedding was damaged by fire.

"The sheep were released from the barn to a field for safety and were looked over by a local vet.

"One adult male received oxygen therapy following smoke inhalation and was conveyed to hospital as a precaution. 

"The contents of the barn were removed to the open and the electrics were isolated.  Duty of care was left with the occupiers. 

"The cause of the fire was accidental.