Big hay shed fires
More than 1000 bales destroyed
Two separate hay shed fires saw more than 1000 bales of hay destroyed only hours apart on Sunday.
The first fire was called in at 5.30am at a Boxwood Rd property near Berrigan and razed close to 400 big bales of hay.
The second fire on a Maxwells Rd property near Finley was called in about 10.40am and destroyed close to 700 bales.
Both sheds were completely destroyed, according to the Rural Fire Service.
Southern Border RFS community safety officer Patrick Westwood said crews from Barooga, Berrigan, Tocumwal and Finley attended the fires.
‘‘We turned out six appliances and a crew of 25 firefighters within less than 20 minutes at both sites,’’ Mr Westwood said.
‘‘However when we arrived both sheds were fully alight and the big bales couldn’t easily be shifted.
‘‘Generally, once hay shed fires erupt it’s difficult to save the bales or sheds because of the natural combustion that occurs, whether it be from cutting it a bit green or the moisture in the bale.’’
Mr Westwood said crews at both sites worked hard to prevent the fires from spreading in the hot, windy conditions.
‘‘The real concern that day was because it was a total fire ban and once bales are alight they burn for days, so we try to manage exposure by preventing the fire from impacting anything else,’’ he said.
‘‘At the Boxwood fire a piece of steel fell down from the shed which in turn fortunately prevented wind getting in it.
‘‘Crews undertook successful backburns at both fires early in the morning to increase the amount of burn area around the shed so the fire couldn’t escape.’’
Crews remained on scene until 6pm and will work with landholders to monitor the bales this week.
Mr Westwood said the fires serve as a reminder for people of the volatility of hay, especially after wet seasons.
‘‘Lots of hay fires occurred after the wet season in 2010 and 2011,’’ Mr Westwood said.
Coming into harvest, farmers are urged to be vigilant with conditions and make the most of the RFS’s new harvesting operation trial.
The trial involves providing a table for farmers to reference during harvest to give them an idea of when it becomes unsafe to harvest and provides information of the risk of ignition.
‘‘It’s really a common sense thing and we know 99 per cent of people do the right thing by themselves and their neighbours (during harvest),’’ Mr Westwood said.
‘‘We just want to see a safe harvest and summer this year.’’
For fire season safety advice go to www.rfs.nsw.gov.au or www.fire.nsw.gov.au
The hay shed fire at a Boxwood Rd property.