Fire destroys hay bales

By Deniliquin Pastoral Times

A fire west of Moulamein this week destroyed 400 hay bales, according to Deniliquin’s NSW Rural Fire Service.

The ‘‘brand new stack’’ of hay bales ‘‘stacked in the open’’ had recently been delivered, the authority said.

NSW RFS inspector Doug Adamson believed the fire likely had ‘‘too much moisture content’’ leading to a possible ‘‘spontaneous combustion.’’

Insp Adamson believed no serious property damage had resulted from the fire.

‘‘People just need to keep an eye on their stack,’’ Insp Adamson said.

Another smaller fire broke out west of Moulamein this week with the authority calling on all farmers and landholders in the mid Murray area to carefully manage their hay bales throughout the fire season.

A statement from the service said there had been a number of hay shed and hay stack fires in recent weeks, ‘‘resulting in expensive losses for farmers.’’

Insp Adamson said farmers should check their hay stacks on a regular basis and ensure any valuable stock and machinery is stored separately.

‘‘Hay shed fires have the potential to cause considerable damage to farming infrastructure.’’

Alongside two hay stack fires attended by the Mid Murray RFS in the last week, the statement said it had attended several over the last three to four weeks.

‘‘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,’’ Insp Adamson said.

The authority advises that farmers regularly inspect hay bales, breaking them open or using 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,’’ Insp Adamson 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 at all times.’’

A second hay stack fire destroyed over 200 hay bales, only being a small distance away at a neighbouring property on Swan Hill Rd.

It is believed the hay bales at both fires had recently been delivered by the same supplier from Victoria.

Insp Adamson said a possible cause for the spontaneous combustion could be the hay being baled too early.