The cost of devastation caused by farm fires reached a five year high of £49million last year, according to rural insurer NFU Mutual's claims statistics.

Electrical faults accounted for over half the total, followed by arson which rose by 40 per cent to £9million.

Additional analysis from the insurer indicates that 2020 is on track to see an even higher number of incidents and costs.

Andy Manson, managing director of NFU Mutual Risk Management Services Ltd said: “Farm fires put the lives of people and livestock at risk as well as having a huge emotional and business impact on farmers and their families.

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“The scale of the damage we are seeing shows it’s more important than ever to reduce the risk of a fire. Farmers not only have to be mindful of the usual farm hazards such as electrical equipment, combustible material and fuel but also protect themselves from the alarming rise in arson damage.

"Many farmers are feeling particularly vulnerable this year and with straw in short supply after the poor harvest, more and more are using remote camera systems linked to mobile phones as well as fencing off straw stacks and farm buildings to discourage arsonists.”

Fires caused by electrical faults totalled £25million last year. Operating in harsh environments, farm electrical systems often get wet, hot or dusty leading to short circuits and cable failures. RMS is advising farmers to have regular electrical inspections, not to overload power supplies and to have enough plug sockets to avoid using multi gangs and other adapters.

Although the number of farm fires last year was at a similar level to 2018 across the UK, the damage was more costly. NFU Mutual’s initial claims figures from January to July 2020 have seen an increase in both incidents and cost, suggesting that 2020 could be heading towards a six-year high.