We consider axial torsion fields which appear in higher derivative quantum gravity. It is shown, in general, that the torsion field possesses states with two spins, one and zero, with different masses. The first-order formulation of torsion fields is performed. Projection operators extracting pure spin and mass states are given. We obtain the Lagrangian in the framework of the first order formalism and energy-momentum tensor. The effective interaction of torsion fields with electromagnetic fields is discussed. The Hamiltonian form of the first order torsion field equation is given.