A man is being quizzed by police on suspicion of arson following a huge farm fire that swept through a barn on the Isle of Sheppey, Kent.

The 36-year-old was arrested in Minster-on-Sea on Friday morning (22 August) after a blaze gutted a barn on the island.

Fifty firefighters were called to tackle the blaze at Little Wooton Farm in Elm Lane, Minster, which broke out at about 1.25am today (Friday).

The arrest of the man, in what police described as a “pre-planned operation”, follows two similar fires on the island in the past three weeks.

A Kent Police spokesman confirmed officers were quizzing the man “in connection with a number of arsons”.

Police are also investigating two other farm fires on the island – one in Lower Road, Minster, on 1 August and another in Queensborough Road, Queensborough, on 17 August.

Chief inspector Tony Henley said: “I recognise how distressing these mindless and destructive fires are and I would like to reassure the residents of Sheppey, and in particular the farming community, that we are committed to catching those responsible.

“Alongside the criminal investigation my officers are speaking to the farming community and those affected and offering support and advice at this time.

“We have one person in custody today. However, we have a number of lines of inquiry ongoing and there are other people we would like to speak to in connection with these incidents.”

He urged anybody with any information about these incidents to contact the investigating officer PC Robin Stump on 07980 683 675, quoting crime reference XY/029871/14, or alternatively, by calling Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

A special report compiled by Farmers Weekly this week found that the cost of farm fires has surged to more than £50m a year in the UK, eclipsing the cost of rural crime to agricultural businesses.