A horse suffered horrific burns to his ears, neck and back following a fire at stables in Handcross, West Sussex.

West Sussex Fire Brigade alerted police just after 1am on Tuesday morning after they were called to attend a fire at stables on a farm just west of the A23.

More than a third of the stable block was completely destroyed in the fire which left one horse seriously injured.Three others were rescued unharmed after a neighbour led them to safety.

Biff, a 10-year-old gelding, is being treated for extensive burns at The Liphook Equine Hospital, Hants. His condition issaid to be stable and he is currently responding well to treatment, however the next few days will be critical. Vets won’t know for certain until next week whether Biff will lose the sight in one of his eyes.

His owner Diana Watts told The Brighton Evening Argus: “It was horrific, I just couldn’t recognise him as the injuries were so bad. He was charred completely.”

As well as the burns thought to be caused by burning debris, Biff has also suffered damage to his belly as a result of jumping out of his stable in an attempt to escape the flames.

The exact cause of the fire is unknown at present, but police are treating the incident as suspicious.

Any witnesses or anyone with information should contact PC Tim Hadfield at Haywards Heath Police (tel: 0845 60 70 999), quoting crime number NM1/30563/03.