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‘A lifetime of hard work gone’ - farm destroyed by fire as claims rise in 2018

Claims from June to September had risen 21 per cent on the year before, up from £26 million in 2017 to £31.5m this year.

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‘A lifetime of hard work gone’ - farm destroyed by fire as claims rise in 2018

The figures were outed this week as NFU Mutual released its latest report on fire devastation claims for the 2018 harvest period, with claims in July peaking at £13m, a 137 per cent rise, and those in June shooting up 99.6 per cent.

 

Claims from June to September had risen 21 per cent on the year before, up from £26 million in 2017 to £31.5m this year.

 

NFU Mutual rural affairs specialist Tim Price said: “We normally see claims peaking in August and September, but this year saw a sharp increase in claims during June and July.


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“This was due to the exceptionally hot dry summer which brought harvesting forward by almost a month and resulted in tinder dry crops and overheating of combines, balers, and other harvesting machinery.”

 

Electrical and mechanical fires were the worst offenders, responsible for almost half of NFU Mutual’s claims throughout the harvest period.

 

It was closely followed by fires having spread from a nearby barn or property, and arson.

 

Safety

According to the Met Office, 2018 was the UK’s warmest summer since 2006, the driest since 2003 and the sunniest since 1995.

 

The North West and South East of England were hardest hit at £6.7m and £4.5m respectively, following serious moorland fires in Lancashire which lasted more than three weeks (from June 24), taking out about seven square miles of moorland.

Elsewhere fire claims in Scotland hit £3.5m, and £2.2m in Wales.

 

The figures were published only a day after a farmer in Choppington, Northumberland, issued an emotional plea on social media after a huge blaze wiped out her farm.

 

Sharing a picture of the destroyed barn on Facebook, Sarah Burkinshaw said: “A lifetime of hard work, memories and farm machinery gone in minutes. We just [managed to get] the cattle to safety before the fire spread.

 

“I appreciate hay, haylage and silage is in short supply this year but if everyone could let me buy a small amount I would be more than grateful.”

 

Mr Price said the scale of the claims showed how important it was to take all possible steps to prevent fires breaking out, and to have clear plans to evacuate people and livestock safely in the event of a fire.

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