Farmers in Somerset have been put on alert after a series of suspected arson attacks and barn fires.
Avon and Somerset Police is investigating three fires believed to have been started deliberately on farms between 13-21 February.
The farms are in Cheddar, Creech St Michael and Cossington. The fire at Langaller Farm, Creech St Michael, incinerated 300t of hay and farm equipment. The fires are not thought to be linked at this stage.
Two further barn fires, at Stretcholt, Bridgwater, on 21 February, and Brendon Hill, Watchet, on 23 February, are not thought to be suspicious.
Group commander Chris Pratt, from Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service, said the spate of fires was concerning and urged farmers to be vigilant.
“Barn fires can quickly escalate and spread to other nearby buildings, increasing the risk to life for not only animals, but people too.
“We are calling on farmers and farm managers to act with vigilance at the moment to try to reduce these fires happening. We want to prevent any further fires before someone is seriously hurt.
“Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service are working alongside our colleagues at Avon and Somerset Police, and investigations into these incidents are ongoing.”
Fire advice for farmers
Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service has suggested the following guidance for farmers:
- Check fencing security and repair or replace damaged fencing or gates
- Install intruder sensors and security lighting
- Maintain security of outbuildings
- Keep firefighting equipment in good order.
General farm fire safety
- Keep escape routes clear at all times and keep all areas free from rubbish, oily cloths and other combustible materials
- Ensure that your family and employees know what to do in the event of a fire. Make sure everyone knows where the nearest phone is. Carry a mobile phone at all times, especially if working alone
- Keep firefighting equipment in good working order and ensure it is serviced regularly. Ensure it can be accessed easily at all times and that everyone is aware where it is located
- Make sure the entrance to your farm is clearly signposted and keep all access routes clear for emergency vehicles
- Have an animal evacuation plan in the event of a fire