Budleigh Salterton farm fire sparks call for kids to respect the countryside

Calls for care in the countryside have been made by a farmer from Budleigh Salterton whose trees were set on fire by youths.

 

Jemma Pyne, from South Farm, said young vandals had built a den and camp fire near trees, left litter and evidence of drug and alcohol use.

 

She said having fun in the countryside was to be 100 per cent encouraged, but not at the expense of damaging property or wildlife.

Since the camp fire spread to trees, on Friday, July 12, CCTV cameras have been fitted along a footpath on the farm, and police will monitor the area.

Fire and smoke were seen coming from the iconic Budleigh tree line as flames took hold.

 

Jemma said the fire caused damage to growing crops – and went beyond kids having fun.


She said: “It was more like criminal damage; usually we would agree den building is all part of growing up, having fun and enjoying the countryside.


“Even before the accidental fire, they had made a horrible mess. We had already cleared the site once and hoped that was the end of it.

“The litter at the site was excessive to say the least – crisp packets, drinks cans, road signs, plastic, garden chairs, nailing things into trees.

“There was also evidence of alcohol and drugs.”


Jemma, who has Pynes Farm Shop, urged extra care when building campfires in open countryside; she said fires can quickly spread out of control in dry weather.

“Thankfully no one was hurt, and the fire brigade attended quickly and were able to put out the fire, but it could have been much worse,” she said.

“There was a great deal of damage caused to the beautiful trees, and the fire engines had no choice but to travel across our farm land, causing damage to the maize crop and the irrigation pipes – which of course will have an impact on the farm income.”

She hoped those responsible had learned a lesson; that actions carry consequences and punishments, and urged youths to think about the impact to people and property.

Jemma said: “It’s such a shame that some kids aren’t taught to respect the countryside; to not ruin it for everybody – and to appreciate that they’re lucky to live in an area of outstanding natural beauty.

 

“They had apparently been going there regularly as there was already an enormous amount of litter left there which was not only an eyesore but also incredibly damaging for the delicate wildlife system in the estuary area, which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest; there were also stolen road signs, and netting – which could have caused injury to birds.

“We very much hope that the lads responsible will learn a lesson from this incident and think twice about their actions next time, and maybe take some time to read the Countryside Code.“

She added: “Special care needs to be taken in this very hot dry spell as fires can spread very easily and cause considerable damage. It wasn’t long ago that Woodbury Common was on fire.”

Picture: Jemma Pyne

Picture: Jemma Pyne

 

Picture: Jemma Pyne

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