Cumbrian farmers are urged to be vigilant when it comes to barn fires after several have sparked up across the county.

They’re caused by hay bales catching fire due to a build up of mould, which itself is caused by moisture in the hay from either the time of bailing or from exposure to rain.

Hay naturally insulates, so when it reaches 55C, flammable gas is made which combusts if temperatures rise further.

Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service recommend farmers remove hay from fields as soon as possible after harvesting and ensure that it’s dry before storing.

Hay should be stored away from other buildings, especially ones that store chemicals, fuels, fertilisers, and livestock.

It should be stored in stacks at least 10 metres apart and with sufficient room between the stack and roof lighting.

The fire service said that if you do feel excessive heat coming from a bale, do not move them - churning and moving the hay supplies the bale with oxygen which can feed flames and cause the bale to catch fire more quickly.

Instead, call 999 for Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service.

James Airey, Cumbria NFU county adviser, said: “The NFU is urging our members to check their hay bales and to contact their local fire service if they need help. 

“Farmers should also take extra precautions given the increased risk such as having checked fire extinguishers on all vehicles involved in the harvest campaign and putting firebreaks in around fields as soon as they are harvested.

“Our county advisers and group secretaries also work with the fire service to host events on farm fire prevention, security and access to water and these safety briefings for NFU members and young farmers remain vitally important to safeguard people, livestock, buildings and crops.”