Fire burns hundreds of bales at Trent farm

Firefighters from five departments spent six hours Sunday at a fire of hundreds of cornstalk bales at Jared Nielsen’s farm east of Trent. Conditions included strong winds with gusts up to 50 miles an hour.

Fire departments from five communities spent a windy, dry Sunday dousing a fire at a farm east of Trent.
Farmer Jared Nielsen called for help at 10:15 a.m. while he was moving cornstalk bales on his farm at 240th Street and 481st Avenue. Nielson had moved two bales and came back for a third and saw it on fire, said Tom Scherff, Trent fire chief.
The cause of the fire hasn’t specifically been determined, he said. The 911 call indicated there were 480 bales.
 “The whole pile was on fire when we got there,” Scherff said.
 With five departments responding, firefighting efforts were hindered by extremely dry conditions and a sustained south wind of about 30 miles an hour with gusts up to 50 miles an hour. It was 70 degrees.
The fire jumped the road to the west and burned a small part of a harvested cornfield, and embers also ignited an area across 240th to the north. Both of those fires were contained and extinguished.
When Trent fire department volunteers arrived, pine trees near the bales also had burned, but no embers had reached the house or other buildings.
“Those embers were carrying quite a ways,” Scherff said. “They wetted the house down immediately when they got there.”
Three trucks were stationed in the yard during the six hours responders were on scene in order to protect the home and other buildings. Moody County Sheriff personnel blocked off roads close to the farm to give trucks safe access in and out. A fuel truck brought diesel to the scene to fill trucks.
Neighboring farmers with tractor loaders grabbed burning bales and dropped them in a long narrow swath in a field south of the farm. The only way to put out fire in bales is to open them up and spread them out, Scherff said.
Each time a tractor got a load of burning stalks, firefighters sprayed down the hydraulics to prevent the equipment from starting on fire, too, he said.
Trucks went for more water countless times, filling at Lacey’s west of Trent and at River’s Edge in Flandreau. They were able to leave the scene shortly after 4 p.m. About an inch of rain in the night hours after the fire fell in the area.
Scherff estimated 70 firefighters helped with the fire. In addition to about 20 volunteers from Trent, departments from Flandreau, Colman, Dell Rapids and Jasper, Minn., also worked the fire. No one was injured.

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