Police are appealing for information after 150 hay bales were deemed to have been deliberately set alight at a farm in south Staffordshire.

Staffordshire Police said its officers were called to an address on the A449, Penkridge, at 9:45p.m on Saturday (August 19).

Firefighters from Staffordshire Fire & Rescue Service were called to the scene and extinguished the bales, which were described as “well alight”.

Following an inspection of the scene, the fire was later deemed to be deliberate and an investigation was launched.

Staffordshire Police has urged anyone who was in the area at the time and who has any information that could help in the investigation to contact it.

Staffordshire Fire & Rescue Service said crews from Brewood, Cannock, Codsall, Penkridge, Rugeley, Stafford, and Stone were dispatched to put out the fire.

“Firefighters used hose reel jets to contain and prevent the fire from spreading, with the fire reaching 20 feet in it’s height,” it said.

Hay bale fires

Farmers are being urged to continually assess the risk of fire on their land by Cumbria Fire & Rescue Service.

The service said it was issuing the warning following barn fires near Ulverston and Flimby in the last month caused by “spontaneous combustion”.

“Hay bales can catch fire due to a build-up of mould caused by moisture in the hay from time of baling or from being rained on,” it said.

“Hay naturally insulates, so once the hay reaches 55°C, a chemical reaction creates flammable gas.

“If the temperature of the hay continues to rise, the heat can cause the flammable gas to combust.”

Cumbria Fire & Rescue Service said there are things farmers can do to prevent the risk of hay bale fires on their farm.

These prevention measures include:

  • Removing hay from fields as soon as possible after harvesting and ensuring that it is dry before storing it;
  • Storing hay away from other buildings, especially those that store chemicals, fuels, fertilisers, and livestock;
  • Storing hay in stacks at least 10m apart and with sufficient room between the stack and roof lighting;
  • Checking the bales regularly for any heat.