Arson badly damages barn at Riseholme farm

Update: The University of Lincoln responded to our enquiries, a week after this article was published, and two weeks after we originally contacted them. You can read it at the end of the original article.

The University of Lincoln is looking in to a barn fire that occurred at its farm near the Riseholme campus. The most recent fire happened on October 11th and is believed to be arson, but this has apparently happened before.

An open-sided barn at the Riseholme Park Farms site was deliberately set on fire, with emergency services being called just after 8pm on Saturday, October 11th.

The barn was being used to store about 280 hay bales, and about 80 straw bales, Lincolnshire Police say. The fire service say that someone had deliberately set fire to the bales, and the fire and heat damaged the metal barn. It apparently took some time to put out.

The police say they searched the area around the farm, but didn’t find anyone.

Reg Smith, the university’s health and safety manager, said: “I’m talking to people like the fire brigade, [and] looking at incidents around the farm.”

He said that there had actually been two fires, but this was the most recent one. Smith was keen to stress that he didn’t think it had been caused by any students.

Riseholme is “not like a conventional farm”, where a farmer lives on-site. “[It’s a slightly different situation. It’s not like the rest of the campus [either].”

“We are looking to increase fencing [and] restricting third-party access,” he said, but things were complicated by a public footpath running very close by.

“You can’t just block off a public footpath,” and so they would have to involve groups like the Ramblers Association.

The Linc contacted the University of Lincoln last week, asking for more details about what the university was doing in response to the fire, how it had affected students who use site, and also for information about the earlier fire. We are yet to receive a response.

Update:

On November 13th, we received a response from the university’s registrar, Chris Spendlove:

“Arson incidents resulted in fires at two barns on Riseholme Park Farm on 6 September 2009 and 11 October 2009. Both barns suffered damage, and there was a loss of farm equipment and consumables. It is not anticipated that there will be any negative impact on students.

“The Fire Brigade arson specialist has visited the scene and provided advice. Improved fencing is being installed. In addition, both University Security and Lincolnshire Police have increased patrols in
the area.”

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