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Dry summer sees farm fires rocket as claims hit four-year high

NFU Mutual said the spike was largely driven by crop fires, with the drier summer contributing to the scale of blazes.

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Dry summer sees farm fires rocket as claims hit four-year high

Farm fire claims in the UK have hit a four-year high after last year’s prolonged dry summer bumped costs in the East of England up by a staggering 350 per cent.

 

The July rise – taking the 2018 regional cost to £11.1 million – was behind the £46.4m spike across the UK, which was up 27.5 per cent on the year before.

 

NFU Mutual said the spike was largely driven by crop fires, with the drier summer contributing to the scale of blazes.

 

According to the Met Office, 2018 was the driest summer since 2003 and the hottest since 2006.


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NFU Mutual rural insurance specialist Rebecca Davidson said: “Our latest figures serve as a crucial reminder to be alert to the danger and have plans prepared and shared with family members and staff.

 

“It is possible to manage the risks by taking all possible steps to prevent fires breaking out and to have clear plans in place to evacuate people and livestock safely in the event of a fire.”

 

The East of England was the worst affected area in terms of claims costs from 2017-18, with farmers reporting a 224.5 per cent rise.

 

Safety checks

Electrical faults were the most common cause of farm fires (37 per cent), ahead of a spread from elsewhere (23 per cent) and arson (20 per cent).

 

Scotland was the second worst-affected area, with claims up 89.8 per cent to £7.6m, while the Midlands, North West and Wales all saw a more than 19 per cent fall.

Ian Jewitt, managing director of NFU Mutual risk management services, said farmers were advised to schedule regular safety checks of electrical equipment to help minimise any risk.

 

“Consider fencing off straw stacks and farm buildings to discourage arsonists and make it harder for fires to spread by keeping hay and straw at least 10 metres away from farm buildings,” he said.

 

“To enable you to fight a small fire safely, keep fire extinguishers in good working order and make adults living and working on the farm aware of where they can be found and how they should be used.”

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