A PHOTOGRAPH circulating on social media appears to show the moment a North Yorkshire barn was set alight.

The image was sent to The Northern Echo this morning and has now been passed on to the police.

It appears to show two young people in a barn sitting on straw with a small fire having just been lit.

The Northern Echo has pixelated the face of the young person visible in the image.

Five local teenagers aged 13 to 15 have been arrested after the barn blaze in Bedale Road, Aiskew, near Bedale, which sent acrid black smoke billowing across the A1.

Two hundred and thirty eight cows had to be rescued as the flames ripped through the sheds.

A massive operation was organised by local farmers to get the cattle off the site as 50 fire officers battled through the night to bring the blaze under control.

Fire Officer Mark Warren said it had been a “major operation” with eight crews from as far as Stokesley and Harrogate working in temperatures of upwards of 600 degrees to bring the fire under control and stop thick black smoke blowing onto the A1 and the main A684 road.

“It has been a big barn fire, we have worked through the night, but managed to save around 60 per cent of the building. The cattle were traumatised and being next to the A684, it was important to keep them contained and get them off the site.”

Investigations have been launched by the police and the fire service. Police say the five local teenagers, three girls aged 13,14 and 15 and two boys aged 14 have all been released on police bail while further enquiries are carried out.

An off-duty police officer spotted the blaze in the barn just before 6pm on Sunday 1 March 2015, and raised the alarm.

Officers are appealing to anyone who was in the area around the time of the incident, and noticed anything suspicious, to contact them on 101.

Fire crews from Bedale and Northallerton were initially sent to the scene and discovered a large barn, approximately 50ft by 50ft, on fire.

Further crews were requested from Masham, Northallerton, Richmond and Colburn, while a water bowser from Boroughbridge was also mobilised.

At 6.30pm a further two appliances were requested along with a high volume pump. These came from Stokesley, Ripon and Harrogate.

Various support officers are also in attendance.

Flames from the fire were visible from the A1 and smoke billowing across the road caused problems for drivers.

North Yorkshire Police said the fire caused “visibility issues” on the A1.

The A684 has been closed between Leeming Bar services and Gill’s garage were closed as a result for some time.

Police confirmed that the cause of the fire was being treated as arson.

Anyone with information about the fire can call 101 quoting reference 12150034008.