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Farmer raises fire fears after field blazes

Will Taylor and James Hockaday
Farmer raises fire fears after field blazes

A farmer is worried his land could be the next victim of a field fire and believes the blazes could happen on a daily basis until rain falls.

Cllr Colin Rayner (Con, Horton and Wraysbury) also fears firefighters could face exhaustion combating so many blazes and called on the Government to consider reinforcing them with the army.

On Monday, a field fire spread to industrial units and property in Little Marlow, shutting the A404 that evening, and another took hold in Holyport on Tuesday.

He farms about 2,000 acres combined on Berkyn Manor Farm, off Stanwell Road, and land near Stubbings.

“My view is that I have seen the footage of the fires on Facebook, especially the drone footage, and it is quite scary,” he said, noting that a fire could ‘run a mile in 15 minutes’.

He added: “Until we get rain we are going to get a fire in the area every day.

“My worry is the fire brigade will get exhausted. I think the Government is going to have to think about supporting the fire brigade with the army.”

Cllr Rayner has planned precautions with his farm staff. They will attempt to harvest only in the early morning or evening, and will see how they manage in small fields before moving onto a bigger area.

A total of 12,000 litres of water have been readied and firebreaks would be deployed if a blaze broke out.

He said a fire could be triggered by a spark from an exhaust or a shard of glass in a field and has been alarmed at how quickly the flames have spread in this week’s incidents.

“Everybody, please support the farmers and the countryside and the fire brigade,” he pleaded.

“There are going to be very difficult times over the next few weeks.”

Firefighters from Maidenhead station have suggested safety tips.

“Even if you can’t dispose of them, you have to make sure that every cigarette of yours when you’re walking down the footpath is put out,” said crew manager Graeme Hartley, from Maidenhead Fire Station. He said glass bottles are another thing to look out for, as they can magnify sunlight onto flammable surfaces.


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