Baler fire races across hay field, threatens crops

Posted August 23, 2012 at 5:00 am

by Julie Ann Madden

j Willms** fire 1.tif

Akron firefighters fight a hay field blaze in Virginia South Township in Union County, S.D., after a baler caught fire Friday afternoon.

About 3 p.m., a rural Akron, S.D., farmer was baling hay when the baler caught on fire Friday afternoon.

“I must have hit a rock that caused a spark,” said Austin Willms who was baling hay along 482nd Avenue, just south of 308th Street. “It’s just too dry.”

That spark was soon a fire roaring across the hay field owned by Virginia McCarthy and custom-farmed by Gary Witt of Hawarden.

By the time the Akron firefighters arrived, the fire had engulfed about 10 to 15 acres and was heading toward a creek to the east as it spread both to the south and north.

Firefighters, with the help of neighboring farmers, were able to contain the fire to the field. For a while, they were worried if it didn’t stop at the creek, it would enter a corn field farther east. Then the firefighters would have had no access to get vehicles and equipment into the area.

By about 5 p.m., firefighters were able to return to Akron.

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