FIRE crews worked to extinguish a huge countryside blaze that spread across 15 acres of land and caused ash to fall from the sky last weekend.

The fire broke out at a field between Howle Hill and Ruardean on Saturday afternoon (August 6), burning through acres of cut straw and hay and also affecting farm machinery.

It was the second rural blaze in a matter of days following a haystack fire at Tank Meadow, Ross-on-Wye, on Friday, July 29.

Firefighters from Ross-on-Wye and Whitchurch stations were joined by crews from Coleford and Cinderford in fighting Saturday’s blaze, which took two hours to put out, using hose reels and breathing apparatus

Residents reported on social media that black ash was falling from the sky as far away as Cinderford, while others posted photos and video of several plumes of black smoke billowing from the site.

Suspicions of arson have not been confirmed to date, a Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue spokesperson saying they were unable to provide any details about the cause of the fire “at this stage”.

“We were called at 12.38pm on Saturday, August 6, to a fire in a field of cut straw and hay near Drybrook.

“The fire covered 15 acres and also affected a tractor and a hay baler.

“Five fire engines, two from Coleford, one from Cinderford, one from Ross-on-Wye and one from Whitchurch, used hose reels and breathing apparatus to extinguish the fire.

“The stop signal was received at 2.38pm.”

Some people in Ross-on-Wye later reported a strange colour in their tap water, which some attributed to water being pumped from the mains to fight the blaze.

The fire followed the hay stack blaze at Tank Meadow eight days earlier when two appliances from Ross, one from Whitchurch and a water carrier from Peterchurch attended around 8.45pm, later supported by firefighters from Fownhope and Ledbury stations.

A Herefordshire Fire and Rescue spokesperson said a large hay stack was “well alight”.

“Crews got to work by stopping the fire spreading further in the fields, and once this was done the fire was then contained to burn into the night.”