|Bales burst into flames on Long Hollow|
|Thursday, October 21, 2010|
By Marjorie Lloyd
A flat bed trailer with 15 bales of hay caught fire late Tuesday morning near the intersection of Red River Road and Long Hollow Pike. Wayne Woodard, who was transporting the hay from a nearby farm to his farm near Westmoreland, was driving on Long Hollow Pike. After people waved at him to call his attention to the smoke coming from the stacked bales, Woodard pulled the trailer to the side of the road at the Mystik Service Station.
Sheriff Deputy Joe Matthews, who was also driving on Long Hollow Pike, stopped and went through the contents of three fire extinguishers after calling the Gallatin Fire Department.
“I was just on patrol,” said Deputy Matthews, “I looked over and saw the smoke and saw him trying to put out what looked like a small fire. So I came over and checked with him, and it started spreading. I got out the fire gentlemen came over with fire extinguishers, and it didn’t do any good. We had the fire department in route, but we had to do something.”
Deputy Matthews backed his vehicle away from the trailer when the bales began to flame, and Woodard unhitched the truck from the trailer and moved it away.
The bales, which the driver stated were from last year’s crop, smoked and then briefly flamed but persisted in smoldering.
Woodard stated he had no idea how the fire started but estimated the value of the hay at $300.
Firefighters from the A shift at the Gallatin Fire Department first hosed the bales down and then climbed aboard the trailer to shove the bales onto the asphalt and spread them apart.
A forklift from Garrott Brothers and a backhoe and dumptruck from the City of Gallatin Public Works helped remove the bales.
Traffic was re-routed away from the intersection of Red River Road and Long Hollow Pike while the bales were still being hosed down and separated.
Dave McDole, the county executive director at the Farm Service Agency, said one round bale can weigh anywhere from 1,000 to 1,500 pounds.
He also noted that spontaneous combustion occurs most often with new or “green” hay.
“You can put your hand around it (a bale), and you can feel the warmth. When the heat level gets so high, it will flare up.”
Several spectators at the fire were speculating that the bales had started with spontaneous combustion.
McDole aslo stated that square bales are used when a famer wants to sell hay to horse owners, but that the round bales are much less labor-intensive and less time-consuming to bale than the square ones.
He said that “40 or 50 years go,” small round bales began to be found on farms; they were managed with Allis-Chalmers tractors. but the larger round bales have been in use for 25–30 years.