Warning of countryside fire risk

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The current weather has created tinder-dry conditions which are putting the countryside at high risk of devastating fires, NFU Mutual has warned.

The insurance company is concerned that the recent heat wave could lead to grassland and crop fires, putting lives at risk and costing millions of pounds in damaged crops and machinery.

Tim Price, rural affairs specialist, said: “Every precaution needs to be taken by both farmers and visitors alike. Weeks of dry sunny weather mean that huge areas of land across the whole of the UK are at risk of fire – putting lives of people and animals at risk as well as destroying valuable crops. In many parts of the country, it’s been the driest June for over a decade and the land is so dry that discarded matches and cigarette ends thrown down from cars can easily start a fire.

“With the hot weather predicted to continue we are making a plea to countryside dwellers and visitors to take extreme care to avoid starting a fire.”

Harvesting is already under way, weeks earlier than usual, and NFU Mutual is urging farmers to reduce the risk of fire by making sure that fire extinguishers on combine harvesters are serviced and to make carry out regular maintenance and cleaning to remove chaff.