Cambs police launch operation to crack down on straw stack fires

CAMBRIDGESHIRE police are teaming up with the county’s fire service in a bid to crackdown on straw stack fires.

The force will join Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service, Cambridgeshire Countryside Watch and the National Farmers Union to launch Operation Armitage tackling straw stack arson.

PC Robin Smith, who is leading the operation, said: “These fires cost businesses thousands of pounds and have a dramatic effect on the rural community.

“We are using a range of tactics, including the use of covert equipment, to identify and catch anyone committing this type of crime.

“Offenders will be arrested and face being taken to court. However, there is also an important safety issue to consider. Those responsible are not only risking their own lives but potentially the lives of others.”

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The crack down comes following a number of high-profile arson attacks at farms in the last 12 months, most notable when more than 50,000 tonnes of straw was set ablaze in Sutton, Witcham and Mepal back in December.

Martin Boome, from Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “We take a strong view about any kind of fire which is started deliberately - including stack fires. This type of fire has the potential to kill not only those in the nearby vicinity, but also the arsonists themselves.

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“A stack fire can tie up fire and police resources for several hours, which means that people starting these fires deliberately are impacting on our response to other emergency calls.

“We are working closely with the police to reduce this type of fire and to bring offenders to justice.”

Any suspicious activities around straw stacks should be reported to police by calling 101, 999 in an emergency or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.

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