Yesterday morning, as I was on my way out to the calf ranch, I saw the air was filled with smoke. The closer I drove toward the smoke, the more I could see. I soon realized that it was a hay barn at a local dairy farm that was on fire. Now, the structure itself was not in flames, but all of the hay inside of the structure was in flames. I saw a man on a fork lift speedily driving into the flames, trying to remove bales of hay from the fiery barn. Now, I’m assuming that the man on the fork lift was the dairy farmer himself, and he was risking his life to try to prevent the fire from spreading. Just an assumption, though.
About 7 hours later, I was heading back into town with my mom. We drove past the dairy that was on fire earlier that morning, and guess what? The hay in the barn was still burning. The fire did not appear to have gotten worse, but it did not appear to have gotten any better either. At this point, I was confused. Why weren’t there any fire trucks out there? How was this fire still burning with so much gusto? So, I asked the better learned country girl out of the both of us: Mom.
Mom told me that there were no fire trucks out there because hay fires are really hard to contain. Hay fires spread very quickly. The best thing to do for a hay fire is to protect what is surrounding the fire and try to contain what can be contained, but whatever is already in flames, usually needs to just let the fire run its course. So, because hay barn fires can spread so rapidly, by the time the fire department arrives at the scene of the fire, many times the hay barn itself is already at a total loss.
Why do hay fires spread so quickly? Hay is basically made up of dried forage grasses. Dried grasses usually have a tendency to catch on fire pretty fast. Makes sense, right?
I think what blew my mind the most about hay fires, is what my mom told me about one of the possible causes of hay fires. The most common way that a hay fire starts is when hay is stored while it is still damp or “green.” Ok, are you tracking with me? Hay fires are caused by hay being too damp! The last time I checked, water & fire didn’t go together.
When we purchase hay at the calf ranch, my grandpa and another man who buys hay for us, always test the hay with this probe-type of thing, it looks kind of like a probe, in order to test the moisture content of hay before they purchase it. I always wondered what they were testing for, and now I know!
So anyway, I never knew any of those crazy facts about Hay Barn Fires & I was so intrigued by everything that my mom told me, I figured I’d share it with all of you!