Stack fire may have been arson

ARSONISTS are believed to have destroyed thousands of tonnes of straw in five separate fires in East Anglia.The attacks happened on three farms in Suffolk and Cambridge, and police are now investigating whether they are connected.

ARSONISTS are believed to have destroyed thousands of tonnes of straw in five separate fires in East Anglia.

The attacks happened on three farms in Suffolk and Cambridge, and police are now investigating whether they are connected.

More than 50 firefighters from across west Suffolk spent 24 hours battling to extinguish two straw stacks that were set alight on a disused airfield at Alpheton, near Sudbury, on Saturday night.

The 2,000 tonne stacks were on land owned by Cockfield Hall Farm. Owner David Hodge, who allowed contractors to store the straw on his land, said: "These attacks are horrific and have a big affect on people's livelihoods.


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"This amount of straw is worth thousands of pounds. Words to describe the type of people who do this kind of wanton damage fail me. I am very angry about this, it is the third time this type of thing has happened here this year and enough is enough."

Fire crews from Sudbury, Long Melford and Bury St Edmunds were called to the stacks, which were around half a mile apart, at 8pm on Saturday.

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Further crews from Wickhambrook, Clare, Haverhill and Hadleigh worked in shifts late into last night keeping the fires under control.

A Suffolk police spokesman said: "The fires were spotted by someone travelling through the area and there are being treated as arson. This type of offence is something we take very seriously, not least because of the huge burden it puts on the fire service and the inconvenience to the farmers who spend their time and money preparing the stacks."

At around 11pm on Friday a Haverhill fire crew was called to another stack fire on farmland between Weston Collville and Six Mile Bottom, on the Suffolk/Cambridge border. On their arrival they found a 300-tonne stack, with a car in the middle, well alight. The firefighters worked through the night bringing the blaze under control.

In the early hours of Saturday morning two Cambridgeshire fire crews were called to farmland off Bennick Road, Whittlesey, where a 300-tonne stack and another 150-tonne stack had been set alight.

Cambridgeshire Police spokesman Chris Blewitt said: "The exact cause of the fires have not yet been established but I can say they are both being treated as suspicious.

"Investigations are on going and we will discuss the situation with our colleagues in Suffolk to see if there is any connection with the fires there."

Anyone with any information into the fires should call Suffolk Police on 01473 613500 or Cambridgeshire Police on 01480 456111.

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