A blaze which badly damaged an ancient farm building at Thelwall, Warrington, may have been caused by a wood fire, used by workers to dry their clothes and keep warm.
Following a site visit by a member of Warrington Civic Society site workers confirmed that a small wood fire had been used for about the last 7 months to keep the farm house warm for drying their work clothes and keeping warm.
This had apparently also been regularly left lit overnight.
The barns are centered around a historic farm house on the edge of the village conservation area. Despite objections from local councillors planners approved proposals for the barns to be converted into country homes with four new homes in the grounds.
The farm house is believed to date back to the mid-1700s and is believed to be the last remaining smallholding in the village, but it has not been used as a working farm for 80 years.
Firefighters were called to the building at around 8am on Tuesday morning.
Four fire engines attended a fire in the roof space.Firefighters used a hose reel and a main jet to put out the fire in the building which measured approximately 15 metres by 20 metres. A butane gas cylinder was removed as a precaution.
Police attended to control traffic at the junction of Bell Lane and the A56 Stockport Road, which was closed for much of the day.