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Number of open fires in Suffolk nearly doubles in less than a year

PUBLISHED: 15:10 02 August 2018 | UPDATED: 15:27 02 August 2018

Firefighters tackled a large field blaze in Hadleigh Picture: MARK ELEY/SUFFOLK FIRE AND RESCUE SERVICE

Firefighters tackled a large field blaze in Hadleigh Picture: MARK ELEY/SUFFOLK FIRE AND RESCUE SERVICE

MARK ELEY/SUFFOLK FIRE AND RESCUE SERVICE

The number of field fires being tackled in the region has nearly doubled over the past year, as the heatwave causes more hazardous conditions.

Scenes from the Cockfield field fire in Bury St Edmunds  Picture: SUFFOLK FIRE & RESCUEScenes from the Cockfield field fire in Bury St Edmunds Picture: SUFFOLK FIRE & RESCUE

New figures show that between June 1 and July 31 the number of field, crop, stubble and open fires fought by Suffolk Fire and Rescue was 522.

This compares with 273 during the same period last year.

Hundreds of acres of farmland up and down the county have been affected by recent blazes during the hot weather.

Over two days in July, Chelmondiston alone suffered four substantial field fires.

Fire fighters on scene damping down the fire that had spread into the National Trust Pin Mill Plantation Picture: PAVEL KRICKAFire fighters on scene damping down the fire that had spread into the National Trust Pin Mill Plantation Picture: PAVEL KRICKA

The situation was repeated around the county where 20, 30 or even 50 acres were found alight outside some towns or villages.

Much of the blame for this increase has been placed on the conditions created by the extremely dry weather this summer.

Firefighters have issued several warnings to the public asking them to remain vigilant and prevent causing fires wherever possible.

Chief fire officer Mark Hardingham said: “Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service have received an increase in calls during a prolonged period of extreme hot and dry weather. “Standing crop, crop stubble, grass, trees and undergrowth are currently tinder dry, which is why we are seeing an increase in these types of fires.

“Although the weekend has seen a period of rain, the forecast is for temperatures to rise again.

“With further periods of dry weather, it is important that everyone remains vigilant and are aware of the fire risks when out in the open.”

The Fire Brigades Union has said it is concerned about the number of firefighters being sent out to deal with such incidents.

“We have reduced our ability to deal with field fires,” said Phil Jonston, chairman of the union’s Suffolk branch.

Mr Johnston said that something needed to be done to address the situation, which sometimes left three or even two officers crewing an engine when the number should be five.

“We have huge concerns about fire engines being on less than a full crew,” added Mr Jonston.

Temperatures are set to remain high this weekend, meaning that there could be more field and crop fires to come for the service before the summer is out.

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