Farm owners in South Devon are being warned to stay vigilant after fire crews attended six deliberate barn fires in six weeks.

All the incidents involved a number of fire crews attending the scenes for long periods of time. On the night of January 1, fire crews rescued a man from a flat fire in Paignton at the same time as colleagues from other areas were dealing with a barn fire in Denbury.

South Devon Group Commander Matt Johnson, of Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service, said: “When someone deliberately sets fire to a barn they are committing a serious criminal offence and potentially putting the lives of the public and firefighters at risk.

“There are often combustible materials such as gas cylinders, fertilisers, chemicals or fuel in barns which can be extremely dangerous when in contact with fire. In addition, these are often time-consuming fires to deal with, which means fire crews may not be available for other incidents.”

The incidents were as following: November 18, 2017, Compton; November 29, 2017, Compton; December 1, 2017, Kingskerswell; December 21, 2017, Stokeinteignhead; January 1, 2018, Denbury and January 2, 2018, Dawlish Water.

Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service has issued advice on how to reduce the risk of arson on farms:

• Maintain a good standard of security for all outbuildings

• Prevent easy access to fuel and chemical stores

• Repair or replace any damaged fencing or gates

• Make sure warning notices are displayed

• Install intruder sensors and security lighting

• Dogs or geese can give an early warning of intruders

Anyone with information can call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.