IoW fire taskforce

20 October 2000

IoW fire taskforce

POLICE on the Isle of Wight have formed a special taskforce to investigate a spate of farm fires that has caused £100,000 worth of damage.

The 20-officer team is investigating four major fires that have broken out within two miles of Yarmouth over the past two weeks.

The first blaze caused about £20,000 worth of damage to straw and tyres at Lea Farm, Wellow, owned by former island NFU branch chairman Steve Cowley.

Barnsfield Farm, at Wilmingham Lane, Yarmouth has been targeted twice and East Afton Farm, Afton, has also been hit with 200 round bales of straw destroyed.

Leading the police investigation is detective sergeant Owen Kenny who said: "The farming community is helping us overcome some of the difficulties encountered because of the isolated nature of the properties involved."

David James, spokesman for the local branch of the NFU, said the fires had hit farmers incomes hard.

He added it was also very difficult to catch the people responsible. The best chance of bringing someone to justice was if police were able to act on information that came from the local community.

Mr James said: "Farmers cant afford to lose any winter feed at all this year. It costs enough. Rural crime is getting worse as it moves out from towns where there is CCTV."

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