woodchip fire© Staffs Fire and Rescue Service

A Midlands farmer is counting the cost after 300t of woodchip went up in flames in a farm building.

More than 20 firefighters were sent to tackle the fire, which broke out in the early hours of Saturday (4 November).

Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service sent six pumps, an aerial ladder platform, high-volume pump and water carrier to tackle the blaze.

See also: How a false leg inspired a farm safety campaign

Crews were working on site dampening down on Sunday (5 November). The cause of the fire at the farm in Stone Road, Stafford, is unknown and under investigation.

A fire spokesman said: “We received a call at 1.40am on Saturday morning. There is a vast amount of materials being left to burn in a controlled manner.

woodchip fire

© Staffs Fire and Rescue Service

“The incident had involved one building made of wood and concrete measuring 50m (164ft) by 20m (66ft), which contained a large amount of wood chippings.

“On Saturday morning a fire investigation team was requested to rule out any deliberate ignition. It has not been confirmed either way.”

The fire service later tweeted images of the smouldering pile of wood on its Twitter account.

The fire is the latest in a string of devastating fires reported on UK farms this autumn.

On 18 October, 700 hay bales went up in flames on a farm in the Garvock area of Laurencekirk in Aberdeenshire. In Surrey, 300 hay bales were deliberately torched at Tilsey Farm in Grafham on 12 October. 

Shock rise

NFU Mutual released figures on Monday (6 November) showing an alarming rise in claims for farm fires. In 2016, farm fire claims cost the insurer £44m – 26% higher than the previous year.

The most common cause of farm fires was electrical faults, which were responsible for almost half of 2016 fire claims, according to the insurer. Arson was the next most common cause. 

The statistics reveal that the East of England was the worst affected region in 2016, followed by the South East, Midlands and South West of England.