Dozens of farmers have fallen victim to crop or field fires as a result of this week’s heatwave.

The NFU has issued a warning, pointing out that Essex County Fire and Rescue service dealt with 40 crop and field fires in just a 24 hour period.

Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service also attended 14 fires involving grass, crops, hedgerows and open countryside over the weekend (15/16 July).

NFU chief arable adviser Guy Gagen said: “Every year thousands of acres of countryside, open space and wildlife habitats are destroyed by fire and during the hot weather this risk increases.

“The threat of fire is intensified by fly-tippers, who already cause farmers no end of problems, but glass contained in dumped rubbish can start a fire by magnifying the sun’s rays in parched fields.

“However if everyone follows a few simple rules this risk can be reduced and everyone can continue to enjoy the countryside.”

The slightest spark can start a blaze so campers and visitors to the countryside are urged to:

·        Clear away picnic rubbish

·        Only BBQ in authorised areas and not light fires in the open countryside

·        Extinguish BBQs carefully

·        Refrain from throwing lighted cigarette ends from car windows

Farmers are advised to:

·        Check fire fighting machinery and hand tools are accessible, as well as protective clothing such as sturdy shoes rather than Wellingtons

·        Be aware of potential sources of fire from farm activities such as keeping harvest machinery clear of debris and the spontaneous combustion of hay and other materials