St Albans cornfield fire believed to be arson

A CORNFIELD fire which is believed to have been deliberately lit at the weekend has left a St Albans farmer counting the cost of a fourth blaze in just a year.

The woman, who did not want to be named, said she and her family were working in a paddock close to the cornfield, on part of Hedges Farm near the Park Street roundabout, when she noticed the fire at 2.30pm on Saturday (11).

Two fire engines, from St Albans and Hatfield, tackled the 4-hectare cornfield blaze, with crews extinguishing it by 3.30pm.

The farmer explained: “I was with my daughter and husband on the other side of the field carting straw when I turned around and saw the field on fire behind me, and so I rang the fire brigade.

“It was a deliberate fire. The field is next to the playing field, and it is not going to set itself on fire. We are not allowed to do controlled [stubble] burning.

“The fire started instantly and as it was quite windy, it spread quickly.”

She said the field was set alight three times last year, adding, “they don’t light themselves”.

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The farmer said it “was a nuisance” to deal with a fourth deliberately lit fire during the past 12 months, and that insurance assessors had been called to the site.

A spokesman for Herts Police said they received a report of a fire in a field near Holyrood Crescent before 3pm.

He went on: “It is believed a fire started in a corner of a field which spread and caused around four hectares worth of damage.”

A 10 year old and two 12-year-old boys were later arrested and released on police bail while investigations continue.

No further action has been taken against one of the 12 year-olds and the other two boys remain on bail.