A barn fire in Surrey which destroyed £100,000-worth of hay was caused by spontaneous combustion of damp bales, an investigation has concluded.
The blaze at Potts Farm, near Farnham on 2 September, took 30 firefighters to put out. Crews remained at the scene for a further two days and a digger was brought in to turn the smouldering heap to break down heat spots.
Farm owner Matt Luard said that 800t of hay had been lost at a cost of £100,000 plus the building’s value.
Surrey Fire and Rescue manager Bryn Strudwick said: “Spontaneous combustion is rare but can be a real danger for farmers. A few simple steps can help to protect against the devastation this can cause to buildings and businesses.”
He thought the hay had heated to a temperature of 90C before it caught fire and he advised farmers to regularly check hay temperatures with a thermometer in the first few weeks after harvest.
Fire Service advice on storage –
- Hay and straw should be removed from fields as soon as possible after harvesting and stored
- Take care to ensure that it is dry to prevent spontaneous combustion
- Separate stacks from other buildings, particularly those housing fuels, agrochemicals and machinery
- Break down large stacks into smaller stacks spaced at least 10m apart
- Keep well below roof lighting
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