A FARMER has spoken of his horror as he watched his vehicle become engulfed in a ball of fire.
Graham Shepherd, of Carr Farm in Wykeham, was driving along the A170 at West Ayton when fellow drivers started sounding their horns to warn him that flames were coming from the back of his vehicle.
The 51-year-old, who has worked on farms all his life, said he did not notice any flames when he looked behind earlier. He said: “I was just driving along and people started beeping at me. I looked and flames were coming up behind me. It all happened very quick. I had looked over my shoulder not long before – it was not as if I had gone for miles without checking.”
As soon as he realised the danger he pulled over and got away from the JCB loader. He said: “You are just shocked because it is going up in flames. I had a lucky escape. The vehicle is a write-off – there’s nothing left.”
Witnesses said they heard loud explosions as the tyres heated up and county council contractors had to resurface the pavement yesterday because of the damage caused by the intense heat.
Neil Bastiman, a 49-year-old photographer from Hull, was visiting his brother at the time of Tuesday’s incident and took these dramatic pictures.
He said they were in a nearby field, which was some distance from the road, as the drama unfolded. He said: “We could hear it and there was smoke coming from the back – I thought it was the exhaust fumes until I saw the flames. I was shocked. There were cars going in the opposite direction blowing their horns.”
Mr Bastiman said that by the time they reached the road the driver was safely out of the vehicle. He added: “I had a telephoto lens on my camera so I could stay away from it. I heard a number of small explosions. If they hadn’t noticed it could’ve got into the village and it’d have been more serious in a more populated area.”
Scarborough firefighters received the first of four calls relating to the incident just after 3pm on Tuesday and it took them 10 minutes to arrive at the scene. Once they saw the scale of the blaze, another fire engine was called to help.
A spokesman for North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service said: “The driver wasn’t aware that the tractor was on fire. It was passing motorists who brought it to his attention and he turned around.
“He pulled over and got out and then it wasn’t long at all before the tractor exploded. The last two calls we received were made after it burst into flames. We believe it was caused by a fuel leak in the engine.”
Surrounding plants and hedges caught fire as a result of the blaze and the road was closed while the incident was dealt with.
An ambulance attended the scene but no one needed treatment.