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Farmers adapt behaviour to cope with extreme weather over the weekend

SA Updated
Farmers adapt behaviour to cope with extreme weather over the weekend

Following a number of combine harvesters catching fire across the South Hams, farmers are having to adapt their behaviour to cope with the current drought and heatwave.

Local farmer and member of the Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service retained crew at Salcombe, Eric Stidson, has just decided to stop harvesting during the day due to the increase in fire risks.

He said: “We have risk assessed our harvest operations in the Thurlestone area. Several combines have caught fire locally, with another near miss yesterday.

“Another problem we have is the temperature of the grain coming into our store. Given the current conditions and the close proximity to domestic dwellings, we have taken the decision to suspend harvesting during the day until the temperature drops.”

Eric explained that because the conditions are so dry, the chaff from the crop and the dust from the dry ground is collecting around the exceptionally hot engine parts and causing fires.

He added: “Any little spark coming from the machinery clipping a stone, usually not a problem, is now a real worry as the conditions are like a tinderbox.”

He said suspending harvesting during the day was “the safest option” to try not to “add extra pressure” on the fire service, which is busier than ever.

Eric also reiterated the fire service’s advice to avoid disposable barbecues in vulnerable areas (Dartmoor National Park has also currently banned them, and a number of big supermarket chains are refusing to stock them during the current conditions) and to dispose of them carefully.

The fire at Brixton this weekend was also started by a combine harvester. It was battled for 29 hours and was attended by 20 different fire stations. Approximately 10 acres of standing crops were destroyed and around 30 acres of stubble and hedgerow was involved.

The fire service, with its retained crew, can cover the South Hams, but with large fires calling in appliances across the area, it will be leaving other areas vulnerable.

This fire involved 1 Combine Harvester, which was fully involved in fire and the cause of the fire was accidental.

Harvesting will have to continue, of course, to ensure crops can be brought in to feed the country and further afield, with Eric adding: “We will, however, be starting very early in the morning in order to still make progress before the weather changes.

“We apologise for the inconvenience this may cause and very much appreciate your patience and understanding.”


Pics: Yealverton Fire Station - Brixton fire 


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