A SOUTH Devon farmer suffered severe burns as he battled to free trapped animals in a barn blaze.
The man, named locally as Keith Ellis, was transferred for treatment to the special burns unit at Frenchay Hospital in Bristol.
The blaze destroyed Mr Ellis' home and his car, but he managed to save horses, sheep and calves.
When firefighters arrived at the scene of the fire at Town End farm, Ideford, near Chudleigh they found Mr Ellis suffering serious burns to his hands, face and upper body.
Four fire crews battled in freezing cold, dark, muddy, windy conditions to stop the blaze from spreading to the barns and nearby houses.
Fire crews administered emergency treatment to Mr Ellis, applying burns gel and dressings to the burns while they waited for an ambulance crew to arrive.
Mr Ellis was taken by ambulance to Torbay Hospital's accident and emergency department.
After treatment and sedation he was then transferred to Frenchay Hospital.
It is believed Mr Ellis was woken by the fire and immediately went into the barn and an adjoining stable block to open pens and lead the animals to a safe place in an upper field away from the fire and smoke.
Watch commander Phil Scammells, officer in charge at the scene, said: "On arrival it turned out to be a chalet dwelling and adjacent barn with stables alongside.
"The whole of the chalet and adjoining storage building was well-alight when we got there at about 4.30am. There was a barn with adjacent stables.
"A 4x4 vehicle was parked alongside the chalet-type building and unfortunately both were destroyed.
"Unfortunately the owner had gone back in to try to remove his vehicle, keys and phone when it was well alight and he had sustained burns to his face and arms. They were quite nasty burns.
"His priority was to make sure the horses and animals were safe because the barn and stables were under threat.
"There was a lot of smoke and we did stop it spreading, although the chalet was completely destroyed.
"There was an adjacent house with garage at the rear which was also under threat because of their proximity. When we arrived the house had been evacuated.
"At that time it was very windy, but luckily the wind was in our favour and it was blowing the fire and smoke away from the neighbouring house."
Two fire engines from Newton Abbot and two from Teignmouth and the water bowser from Torquay attended.
The incident support vehicle from Totnes was also sent to the incident.
Crews used three main jets, two hose reel jets, four breathing apparatus, and the water bowser. Water was also carried from the nearby street hydrant.
Fire investigators were carrying out a full investigation, but it is believed the fire was started accidentally.