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Holderness witnesses spate of combine fires
    By Nicola Watson  

FARMERS are being urged to maintain their combines regularly to reduce the chance of vehicle fires as they gather in this year’s harvest.

Humberside Fire and Rescue Service has been called to a significant number of crop fires across the region recently. The fire service says most are believed to have been started deliberately, but poor maintenance of combine harvesters and recent high temperatures are also contributing to accidental mechanical fires on the region’s farms.

Humberside crews have been called to around half a dozen accidental combine fires in August and Holderness has seen a spate of accidental mechanical fires on its farms over the past week.

The service has attended call-outs to Easington, Patrington Haven and four engines attended an incident in Hornsea in which a combine fire spread to 20 acres of standing corn.

The fire service was called to Easington on Saturday, August 24, at 1.24pm to a fire involving a baler, wrapping machine, four hay bales and 12 acres of field. The baler and wrapping machine were totally destroyed by the fire.

There were two separate incidents in the Rolston Road area in Hornsea a day apart, with calls coming in on Monday, August 26 at 2.02pm and Tuesday, August 27 at 2.28pm. These incidents involved a combine harvester and approximately 20 acres of standing crop.

Firefighters were called to Patrington Haven on Tuesday, August 27, at 4.50pm to a combine harvester on fire which spread to 200 square metres of wheat and straw.

The National Farmers Union (NFU) has issued advice on its website urging farmers to rigorously keep up cleaning and maintenance schedules to reduce the risk of combine fires as they bring in the harvest this year.

Tim Price, NFU Mutual rural affairs specialist, said: “Most farmers have finished bringing in their barley crops and are harvesting wheat which put combines under more strain. This means it’s more important than ever to stop build-ups of chaff and dust which can lead to fires if parts of the combine overheat. So far, good harvesting conditions are keeping the number of combine fires pretty low. While we’ve had some rain in July and August, fields are currently pretty dry and there have been a number of field fires. We sometimes see more fires towards the end of harvest, when farmers are working mostly with wheat crops and both they and their machinery are getting weary after weeks of working long hours.”

Humberside Fire and Rescue Service reiterated its fire risk guidance to farmers. Hay and straw should be removed from fields as soon as possible after harvesting, stored away from other buildings, in stacks of reasonable size,spaced at least 10 metres apart.

Dave Bristow, its public safety station manager said: s wheat crops are harvested and stored, we urge farmers across the region take steps to ensure that straw is stored safety to reduce the risk of deliberate fires.” Meanwhile, following field fires over recent days in the Ganstead and Bilton area, a post on Humberside Police East Riding of Yorkshire South Facebook page said: “The majority of field fires have been proven to have been started deliberately, including the incident in Ganstead last week. Twenty-two acres of agricultural fields were damaged in that incident and tied up dozens of firefighters for a significant period of time. Local residents feared the fire would spread to nearby properties.”

Humberside Police is asking members of the public to report anything suspicious and call 999 in the most urgent cases.

The Holderness Gazette - Serving News to the Holderness Region