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Following a spate of straw stack fires over recent weeks in North Lincolnshire, Humberside Fire and Rescue Service is reiterating its warnings to farmers and working alongside Humberside Police to protect farms and bring to book those responsible for these serious crimes.

Recent stack fires at Eastoft and Croxton in North Lincs are both believed to have been started deliberately.

Humberside Police and Humberside Fire and Rescue Service are once again offering farmers key crime prevention and fire safety advice to help reduce the risk of arson. A booklet has been issued to all farmers via the Farmers' Union to give hints and tips for the safe stacking and protection of property at this time of year. Banners have also been produced which farmers are attaching to their own stacks to deter opportunist fire setters.

Nick Tharratt, Public Safety South Group Manager at Humberside Fire and Rescue Service, said:

“Sadly, these are not isolated incidents at this time of year. As hay is harvested and straw stored, we urge farmers across the region take steps to ensure straw is stored safety to reduce the risk of deliberate fires.”

Julie Turrell, Rural Crime Officer, Humberside Police added:

“Why someone would deliberately set fire to a store of straw is difficult to comprehend. Taking precautions to prevent such incidents is one of the key factors in avoiding becoming a victim of such a crime.”

Detective Chief Inspector Communities Command, Nicki Miller was quick to stress the tough approach that Humberside Police are taking:

"I appeal to the public for witnesses, but want to reinforce the dangers of these types of fires. We will target offenders with a view to being charged before the courts and that arson with intent to endanger life is a serious offence."

Whilst arson attacks on farms and small holdings may be rare, they are difficult to eliminate. A number of simple precautions can substantially reduce the risk of attack:

• Ensure the site where bales are stored is as secure as possible
• Hay and straw should be removed from fields as soon as possible after harvesting, stored away from other buildings, in stacks of reasonable size, spaced at least 10 metres apart
• Store away from livestock
• Store away from the road if possible so as not to be an easy target to anyone passing
• Petrol, diesel and other fuels should be stored in secure areas; storage tank outlets should be padlocked.
• Fertilisers and pesticides should be kept under lock and key
• Rubbish should be disposed of safely and on a regular basis
• Electrical safety checks should be carried out and firefighting equipment should be check frequently
• Prepare a fire routine and action plan to ensure all farm workers know what to do in the event of a fire
• Ensure cigarettes are fully extinguished in an appropriate container.
• Where possible, regularly check and maintain open water supplies for firefighting

If a fire does break out:

• Call the Fire and Rescue Service on 999 without delay
• If possible, send someone to the farm entrance to direct the Fire and Rescue Service to the fire to help save time
• Prepare to evacuate livestock should the fire spread
• Prepare to use farm machinery to assist the Fire and Rescue Service

Anyone with any information about these incidents or have seen or heard anything unusual in the area should call Humberside Police on the non-emergency 101 number.