The NSW Rural Fire Service is calling on farmers and landholders to carefully manage their hay bales.
NSW RFS district assistant Terry Campbell said in recent years there have been a number of hay shed and hay stack fires, resulting in expensive losses.
‘‘Farmers should regularly check their hay stacks and ensure any valuable stock and machinery is stored separately,’’ Mr Campbell said.
‘‘Hay shed fires have the potential to cause considerable damage to farming infrastructure.
‘‘Crews have recently attended hay fires at Noorong, Mathoura, Moama, Stoney Crossing, Wakool and Womboota (this season).
‘‘In some fires, the loss of hay bales and storage sheds has been extensive, but worse still these fires have also damaged or destroyed expensive farm machinery and supplies that were stored nearby.’’
Mr Campbell said farmers should inspect hay bales by breaking them open or by inserting a crowbar or metal rod to assess temperature.
‘‘If the bar or metal rod comes out hot then there is a problem and the hay bale needs to be pulled apart as soon as possible to cool,’’ Mr Campbell said.
‘‘There is considerable risk of hay igniting when it has been stacked while wet or not cured, so we recommend hay is stored in a dry, well-ventilated area away from other machinery.’’
Mr Campbell said the most recent hay fire was on Coloola Rd, Womboota. It started about 11am on Saturday, December 23, and was not completely extinguished until Wednesday. It burned about 400 bales.
‘‘We had to get an excavator to break up the hay and help create a fire break. The Moama and Womboota brigades responded, and we also sent the bulk water carrier from Deniliquin.
‘‘It was mostly contained and with firefighters back in the station at 6.30pm, and it did seem to die down a bit overnight.
‘‘We continued to patrol the fire until we received the report at 1.30pm Wednesday that it was completely extinguished.’’
The second Womboota fire, which burnt about 100 bales, was reported off Perricoota Rd about 11.45am on Boxing Day.
‘‘It was directly opposite Moama’s Deep Creek Marina and was putting up a lot of smoke, so we had quite a few calls. We isolated some nearby silage from the hay and by 3.30pm the Womboota firefighters left the mostly contained blaze under the control of the landholders. It was also monitored until reported to be completely out at 8.30am Wednesday.’’