Warning to farmers after Tydd St Giles arson attack

Hay fire at Cross Drove Tydd St Giles
Hay fire at Cross Drove Tydd St Giles

ARSONISTS set light to around 100 tonnes of straw on Sunday night, prompting a warning to farmers to be extra vigilant at this time of year.

The warning comes after firefighters were called to Cross Drove, in Tydd St Giles, at 10.30pm after an initial report of an electrical pylon on fire.

Firefighters are now warning other farmers about the dangers of leaving stacked bales in fields for prolonged periods of time. Summer is a common time for stack and stubble fires and stacks can be a temptation for arsonists.

Acting crew manager Gary Reach said: “We recommend that farmers are vigilant at this time of year. Report any suspicious vehicles and keep stacks small and away from standing crops. Make sure stacks are not standing there for days and weeks before collecting them.”

A fire crew remained at the scene throughout the night as crew members beat down the flames in the surrounding stubble and prevented them from spreading.

The burning straw was dangerously close to what one firefighter described as an “extraordinarily large” field of standing crops.

Crews were able to contain the blaze as the wind was blowing in the opposite direction which stopped it from spreading.

Mr Reach, who attended the scene on Sunday and Monday, said: “Luckily the wind was blowing away from the field. If even one ember had blown into the crops, it could have taken hold and we would not have had a chance to stop the fire. It would have spread too fast to control.”

The fire was a considerable size and gave out immense heat. One firefighter’s boots started to burn while the Citizen was at the scene and crew members struggled to stay near the smouldering pile of straw for any period of time, even in their fireproof gear.

They did not use water on the fire but let it burn itself out while forking over the compressed straw, a more efficient way of dealing with the flames.

The Cross Drove fire followed a stubble fire at nearby Elloe Bank the previous Tuesday, but this was started accidentally.

• For some more pictures from the fire, click the link on the right.