Witchford & Mepal: Stack Fires

14 December 2011, 12:32 | Updated: 14 December 2011, 16:06

Thousands of straw bales are burning in eight stack fires along the A142 corridor between Witcham Toll and Mepal.

There are several stacks on fire in the Mepal area (roughly 32,000 bales, or about 16,000 tonnes) and several on fire in the Witcham Toll area (roughly 100,000 bales, or about 50,000 tonnes). 

The stack is expected to burn for several days and the smoke and flames can be seen from many miles away.

Chris Parker, Station Manager for Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service said: "These are very large fires and as with all smoke, it does have a degree of toxicity.

We would advise all residents and drivers affected to keep windows and doors closed and to contact NHS Direct is they experience any adverse affects on 0845 4647.

At the moment, the smoke is blowing across fields towards Witchford, but if the wind direction changes we will issue further advice."

According to Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service, the fire is being treated as 'suspicious', and a police investigation has now started.

Arson Liaison Officer for the Cambridgeshire Arson Partnership, Martin Boome said: "The consequences of this fire are huge.

People don't realise the resources the fire service have to put in place to tackle fires such as these, which are likely to burn for several days.

In this situation you have a large amount of straw which is on fire, in very close proximity to other stacks which have been unaffected.

Firefighters must work day and night to ensure that the fire does not spread and this has a cost implication on the service and prevents those crews from attending other emergency incidents in the area.

Fires like this also have a massive effect on the victim and the local community."