Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) has issued advice to farmers following a number of hayshed fires in the region this month.

“Fires are most likely within six weeks of baling. All hay above 15% moisture will heat up within three to seven days, but this generally does not get to dangerous levels,” a spokesperson for NIFRS said.

“However, if the moisture content is 22% or above, it can cause problems, both to the quality of the hay and the risk of spontaneous combustion and fire.

“Checked stored hay regularly. If there is a smell of caramel or a distinct musty smell, it is likely that your hay is heating.”

Farmers are warned that hay can spontaneously combust if the temperature within the stack rises above 55°C.

The stack may need to be dismantled.

Avoid storing hay in sheds containing fuels or chemicals and separate from livestock. Ensure sufficient space between the top of the stack and electrical lighting.