The boiling sizzle of water showering down on the metal roof of a burning hay barn in Cache County could be heard a quarter of a mile away as fire firefighters tried to bring the blaze under control.
According to Fire Marshal Jason Winn, the fire started at about 10:15 a.m. in a hay barn just west of at 3703 W. 600 South on Mendon Road.
Winn said there were two hay barns built just east of a canal that provided a much-needed water supply and decreased the potential loss.
“One of the bigger issues, especially out in the county, is water supply. We were fortunate to have the canal that was right in front of it (the hay barn) that we could draft out of and get water. That helped a ton, to get water on it quick,” Winn said.
There are no fire hydrants in the area so fire tenders that carry water to supplement what engines can carry were dispatched to the scene, but firefighters were able to take water from the canal, making it possible to utilize a ladder truck to attack the fire from overhead.
“If we don’t have a water supply and we’re just using tenders, there is no way we could use the ladder truck — they’ll run you out of water quicker than you think.”
The fire destroyed a tin structure that sheltered 700 one-ton bales of hay, along with a front-end loader, a combine and a 1949 pickup truck. It was located near a second structure that provided cover to a similar-sized stack of hay, Winn said.
“They did a fabulous job of getting water on that fire and keeping that other barn from going up,” he said.
The fire was reportedly called in by a neighbor; other neighbors say the fire went up quickly, with flames as tall as the trees.
Winn said some of the hay enclosed in the structure is from this year, but he has not been able to get close enough to the fire to determine if it might have been caused by spontaneous combustion, a common cause of hay stack fires.
Hay bales that are not dried sufficiently before baling are at risk of a chemical reaction that creates heat that triggers another chemical reaction which in turn creates an ignitable gas, leading to spontaneous combustion when the internal heat becomes too hot.
Winn said firefighters planned to spread the remaining hay out in an adjacent field until it is completely burned out.