Suffolk swelters as field fires consume 15 acres of farmland
PUBLISHED: 15:02 16 July 2018 | UPDATED: 21:26 16 July 2018
A number of firefighters are still at the scene of a huge blaze which spread across Suffolk farmland, fanned by strong winds.
Around 17 fire engines from across Suffolk and Essex were alerted to the blaze in Chelmondiston, to the south east of Ipswich.
Around 10 vehicles still remain on scene alongside specialist 4x4s as well as a drone team.
A Suffolk fire service spokesman said police and coastguard had also been called to evacuate houseboats near to the Butt and Oyster pub at Pin Mill due to concerns about drifting smoke.
Around 15 acres of barley crop and stubble field are said to be “well alight”.
Will Tell, group commander at Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service said: “We are dealing with a really challenging standing crop fire.”
Mr Tell said the fire had been made particularly difficult because of the dry conditions and wind.
Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service has sent its drone into the skies above the fire to monitor the situation.
People living in houseboats along the southern bank of the River Orwell have been asked to leave for their own safety.
The fire service said the evacuation was a precaution to ensure people were out of harms way in well in advance of the flames potentially reaching the boats.
Mr Tell stressed that this action was being taken as a precaution.
People living in the wider area are also being advised to remain inside and close all windows and doors due to the smoke.
Others are urged to avoid the area, if possible.
One nearby resident, Malcolm Braithwaite, 75, said: “We saw the smoke and all the fire engines turning up, and we thought: ‘It’s going to be like last time – when it burnt virtually all of the farm out.’ But then we noticed that the wind changed direction so we were a bit relieved.”
Mr Braithwaite added that it was slightly disconcerting living so close to the blaze.
“We’re both 75, me and my wife, and we don’t want to be evacuated,” he said.
It follows a particularly few days for the service including several other large fires earlier today and dozens more over the weekend.
“We received over 60 calls this weekend. Double what we normally get,” said Mr Tell.
Mr Tell said that last week many of the fires seemed to be focused around the Thetford and Sudbury areas but that this week the fires seemed to be more centred around Ipswich.
It remains unclear as to how long crews will be in tackling the many fires currently alight in the area.
Mr Tell said: “We are going to be in the area for some time.”
Fire service chiefs have previously issued warnings to the public over the challenging conditions posed by “tinder dry” conditions, warm weather and wind and their part in the preventing wild and grass fires.
Mr Tell stressed again the importance of vigilance when using barbecues and cigarettes as well as not discarding glass.