Watton farmer believes 1,200 tonne straw stack fire was started deliberately

The straw stack fire on the outskirts of Watton

The straw stack fire on the outskirts of Watton - Credit: Archant

A farmer who saw 1,200 tonnes of straw bales go up in smoke on his land believes he was targeted by arsonists.

The straw stack fire on the outskirts of Watton

The straw stack fire on the outskirts of Watton - Credit: Archant

The bales, belonging to Chapman & Sons farm in Caston, caught alight in the early hours of the morning. Firefighters attended the scene on the former RAF Watton site but eventually left the blaze to burn itself out.

Farmer John Chapman is convinced the fire on October 22 was started deliberately.

'It could not have combusted on its own. The site is out of the way, you cannot see it from the road, and there were quite big spaces – around 50m – between the stacks.

'There is no way they could have set on fire on their own. One could go up and burn and that would not affect the others, but they all went up at the same time.

'I have never had any incidents like this before. We do what we can – we follow the guidelines and we have signs telling people not to climb them.'

Mr Chapman, who farms around 1,000 acres in seven villages around Watton, said the stacks were destined for the straw-fired power station at Snetterton.

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After the fire the farm made an insurance claim to try and recoup its losses.

Despite it being an 'ideal' storage space, Mr Chapman said he will not be using the site – a concreted section of the former airfield – to store straw again.

He said, one week on, that parts of the gigantic stacks are 'still smouldering'.

'No one wins in the end. A lot of work went into building those stacks. It was not a very nice site to see on the Saturday morning.

'There is a lot of mess to be cleared up at some point. 'We will keep the farm going and hope they find the culprit.'

Police are still conducting enquiries into the incident.

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