2000-bale fire serves as warning

As farmers and contractors are busy with hay and silage harvesting in West and South Gippsland, 2000 bales of hay were lost near Torrita (west of Ouyen) on 19 December.


[Stock photo]

District 9 Operations Officer Ricky Read said the 2000 square bale fire, which burned through the week, served as a reminder to contractors and farmers in West and South Gippsland.

“Spontaneous ignition is the leading cause of haystack fire in Victoria, and just one damp bale is enough to ignite a haystack,” he said.

“Hay heats up due to biological events and chemical reactions and is usually caused by excess exterior moisture or insufficiently cured plant material.

“Haystack fires can spread quickly into the surrounding area and often result in thousands of dollars in damages.”

To keep your assets safe, follow these top tips:

  • Ensure hay is fully cured before baling
  • Bale and store each bale type at the correct moisture level
  • Know the history of hay that you purchase, particularly its moisture content, and if it comes from a batch that has ignited on other properties
  • Protect hay from rain, leaking roofs and spouts, and runoff
  • Store hay in a number of different locations around your farm, away from keys assets, and limit the size of stacks so you don’t lose the lot
  • Don’t store vehicles, machinery and equipment in your hayshed
  • Be careful when operating vehicles, machinery and equipment near your haystacks
  • Create and maintain fuel breaks around your haystacks
  • Regularly monitor stored hay for signs of heating - it only takes one heating hay bale to ignite a whole haystack
  • Have your local CFA fire brigade in attendance if you have to pull a hot haystack apart

For more information on hay and silage harvesting, and farm equipment fire prevention, visit http://www.cfa.vic.gov.au/plan-prepare/farms/

Author: Danika Dent