‘Horrific’ field fire rips through standing crops

A flint spark underneath a combine harvester is believed to have caused a major field fire which destroyed standing crops and nearby property.

Thames Valley Police and Buckinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service (BFRS) were called to a fire in fields near a garden centre in Little Marlow at about 4.30pm on Monday (2 July)

The incident was attended by 30 fire engines and about 100 firefighters.

See also: Farmer tells of heartbreak battling wildfire

Crews battled the fire as it spread from the fields to industrial units and a warehouse, severely damaging a house and garage.

Due to the fire and visibility problems from the smoke, road closures were put in place before firefighters were able to bring the blaze under control.


Drone footage shows the fire engulfed fields with smoke billowing across the area.

Crews used four main jets, six hose reels, four sets of breathing apparatus and a high-volume pump and remained at the scene through the night.

Ambulance crews and specialist resources from South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust also attended the incident.

No one was seriously hurt but people were treated at the scene.

An investigation has started to establish the cause of the fire although it is believed it might have begun with a spark from a piece of flint as a combine went into the crop.

Farmer Andrew Randall tweeted: “We experienced a horrific field fire as we started harvest yesterday, [a] devastating loss of property possibly caused by a flint spark under the header.”

Stay safe

Mr Randall urged fellow farmers to redouble their efforts to minimise fire risks during harvest by keeping a bowser nearby and fire extinguishers in every vehicle.

BFRS area commander Julian Parsons said experts were working to confirm the cause of the blaze.

He added: “It spread faster than you can run.”

Farmers and other people should be aware of seasonal safety advice to help reduce the risk of similar fires, said Mr Parsons.

‘Tinder dry’

Colin Rayner, who farms at Windsor, Berkshire, said it was so dry he was going to harvest crops at night to try to reduce the fire risk.

The situation is similarly dry in other parts of the country.

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service said it had attended 438 fires in the open – largely grass and rubbish fires – within four days.

Area manager Chris Kirby said: “Vegetation is tinder dry and will burn very rapidly should it come into contact with a heat source such as, for example, a barbecue.

“Fires like these are not only labour intensive to fight but they also have the potential to spread and pose a risk to property and people.

“The fire severity index is an assessment of how severe a fire could become if one were to start. This is currently mapped at ‘very high’ for England and Wales.”

June among fifth hottest since 1910

A temperature map of the United Kingdom

© Met Office

Last month was one of the UK’s top five warmest Junes since records began in 1910, according to Met Office statistics – and the hot, dry weather is set to continue.

It was one of the hottest Junes for both daytime maximum and 24-hour average temperatures – with the highest temperature ever recorded for Scotland of 33.2C seen at Motherwell, North Lanarkshire on 28 June.

The Met Office cautioned that all temperature observations are subject to a rigorous verification process and as such this record is only provisional and could change.

The record previous record of 32.9C was set in August 2003 at Greycrook, in the Scottish Borders.


High pressure dominated the weather throughout June bringing more than the UK’s normal share of fine sunny days with high temperatures and very little rainfall.

Looking at the mean temperatures, it was the warmest June on record for Northern Ireland and Wales and fourth warmest for Scotland and England.

When looking at daytime temperatures the UK average for the month was 19.9C – the same average maximum daytime temperature as in June of the still talked-about summer of 1976.

This placed it joint second behind 1940, when 20.6C was reached.

It was also a very sunny month for the UK as a whole, with provisional figures showing it to be the forth sunniest on record behind 1957, 1940 and 1975.

June was also a very dry month for much of the UK.

Just 3mm of rainfall was recorded in south-east and central southern England – 6% of what would normally fall during the month as a whole, making it the driest since 1920.

However, Scotland as a whole saw 71.4mm of rainfall (80% of average), with western Scotland just 6% short of the monthly average.

Counties such as Essex had 1.7 mm of rainfall (4% of average), Dorset 2.0 mm (4%) and Middlesex only 0.7 mm (2%) making it provisionally the driest on record.

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