Haying machine sparks grass fire

Kathy McCarty, Special to The County
9 years ago

 MAPLETON, Maine — A grass fire Monday in a field off the State Road was caused by a piece of haying equipment striking a rock and burned over 12 acres.
“The fire was located in a Lucerne Farm field behind Chandler Farms Inc. It started around 1:15 p.m. The Maine Forest Service and Mapleton Fire Department were the first on the scene, receiving assistance from the Washburn and Presque Isle fire departments,” said Forest Ranger Justin Carney. “We also had the MFS helicopter from Old Town, which was utilized to identify any hot spots in adjacent woods.”
Carney said haying activity in the field was the cause of the fire.
“The fire started from farm machinery causing a spark when it struck a rock. This was the same operator that had a similar instance in Presque Isle on July 6. The operator had a five-gallon pail of water available for suppression but this proved to be ineffective,” Carney said.
He said the operator was already making other plans to prevent any future fires.
“Speaking with the operator, he was upset with the situation and said next time he’s going to mow in the rain and has not seen this type of issue in his 25 years of farming. I must agree, this is unusual to have grass fires this time of year. This was a wind-driven fast-moving fire that slowed dramatically once it hit the more humid woods,” Carney said.
He credited recent rainfall for preventing the blaze from spreading.
“If we hadn’t had the precipitation form Hurricane Arthur, it would have been a much more serious event,” he said.
Approximately 16 personnel were on scene. It took about two and a half hours to extinguish the 12.9-acre fire, according to the forest ranger.
Carney said those operating heavy equipment, as in the case of this haying operation, or using smaller machines for personal use around a home, should be prepared for emergencies.
“The point is people need to keep their guard up and continue to work with local fire officials. Heed our warnings to be cautious. This was an accident that fortunately, due to the timely professional efforts of our local fire departments and rangers, no significant damage occurred to property and no injuries were reported,” said Carney.