Number of Cambridgeshire straw stack fires goes down

Straw fire in Mepal

Straw fire in Mepal - Credit: Archant

THE number of straw stack fires in Cambridgeshire decreased by 20 per cent last year.

Straw fire in Mepal

Straw fire in Mepal - Credit: Archant

There were 12 stack fires in 2012-13, compared to 15 in 2011-12.

There has been a steady reduction in the number of stack fires since 2009-10, when 31 were reported.

Cambs Police officers are working alongside Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service, Cambridgeshire Countryside Watch and the National Farmers’ Union on Operation Armitage to ensure the figure stays as low as possible.

PC Robin Smith said: “These fires cost businesses thousands of pounds and also cause huge disruption to rural communities and motorists.

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“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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Arson Liaison Officer at Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service, Martin Boome said: “We take a dim view of 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.

“A stack fire can tie up fire and police resources for several hours, which means people starting them 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.

“Intelligence on possible offenders is being built, not only from incidents that have occurred but also from within the community.”

Any information regarding suspects or 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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