Arsonists torch haystack

ARSONISTS destroyed around £30,000 of straw after setting light to a stack stored at a Suffolk farm.The blaze, which began late on Tuesday night, is expected to take around four days to burn out, firefighters have warned.

ARSONISTS destroyed around £30,000 of straw after setting light to a stack stored at a Suffolk farm.

The blaze, which began late on Tuesday night, is expected to take around four days to burn out, firefighters have warned.

Three crews created a firebreak around the burning straw to protect neighbouring barns and machinery after arriving at Elms Farm, on the A143 at Depden, near Haverhill.

Water supplies at the isolated farm were short, so officers had to rely on using water pumped from a nearby pond.


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Crews were then forced to watch helplessly as the stack, which contained around 2,500 tonnes of straw, thought to be destined for use at Ely Power Station, was destroyed.

The incident was the latest in a string of suspected arson attacks on straw stacks in around the county.

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Sub-officer Steve Dudden, of Suffolk Fire Service, said such blazes were very time consuming to tackle.

He said: "Fires like this are frustrating, as they take long periods to bring under control. There may be other emergencies we could be dealing with elsewhere.

"This fire is also right next to a road, and the smoke coming from it could be dangerous for drivers.

"Straw stack fires are not too difficult to tackle unless they are near property. Here, our main concern has been defending the farm buildings and machinery.

"We have damped down bales around the flames to create a fire break. Now all we can do is allow the stack to burn under supervision. That will probably take around four days."

Brian Finnerty, of Suffolk NFU, said advice was available to help farmers limit their chances of becoming another arson victim.

He said: "Around one third of all farm fires every year begin due to arson, with farms at particular risk because of their isolation.

"We have information available to farmers, telling them to keep straw stacks a reasonable size, and separate from other buildings. We also advise them to keep straw away from public footpaths, roads and railways.

"Farmers can also look at possibly increasing their security, such as installing security fencing and lighting, while advice should also be available from local fire stations and the police.

"People should also make use of local Farm Watch schemes and share information."

Police said they are not yet linking the arson attack to any other incident.

"It is early days in the investigation, so we are keeping an open mind," said a police spokesman.

Any witnesses should contact Det Con Neil Vollenhoven of Suffolk police, on 01284 774100.

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