June 19, 2018
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Malfunctioning baler ignites 2 acres of hay on Lincoln farm

By Nick Sambides Jr., BDN Staff

LINCOLN, Maine — A malfunctioning hay baler ignited a fire at a Bagley Mountain Road farm that burned about 2 acres on Wednesday, Fire Chief Phil Dawson said.

No one was injured.

The call came in to firefighters about 2:40 p.m. When the first trucks arrived, the fire had burned more than an acre and the wind was driving it over each row of hay, Dawson said.

“The danger is in it spreading [over the] rest of the field and not having enough manpower to deal with it,” Dawson said Wednesday. “We risk potentially having injury and heat-related illnesses.

“I think if it had got into the woods, we would have been able to overtake it pretty quickly, but out here in the open, [the wind] just takes it,” Dawson added.

Firefighters immediately called for mutual aid and a Mattawamkeag Fire Department truck arrived with three firefighters. Combined with the four or five from Lincoln, firefighters had “just barely enough to do the job,” Dawson said.

“It would have been nice to have a few extra hands, but that’s what you got,” Dawson said.

Ranger Thomas Liba of the Maine Forest Service, which handles investigations of grass, hay and forest fires, said this fire underlined how easily a spark can combine with the summer sun and gusting winds to create problems.

“The past couple days have been very busy. We are going through the seasonal drying” of summer, Liba said.

The operator of the hay baler told Liba that he was just tying together a bale when smoke started to pour from the machine. When the operator dumped the bale in the machine, loose chaff got tossed in the air and further ignited the baler’s hoses and belt, Liba said.

The baler was totaled, Liba said. There was no monetary estimate on the loss of the baler and hay available Wednesday.

Resident Lyndon Perry owns the field, Dawson said.

The hay fire was in addition to grass and forest fires in Kossuth Township, Carmel and along Interstate 95 that rangers have been fighting or investigating over the last several days, Liba said.

He warned residents and motorists to be especially careful with flammable and burning materials.

The gusting winds helped reignite the hay field about 5:30 p.m. Firefighters said they would not be surprised if they were called out to the field several times over the next few days.

The National Weather Service forecast calls for clear skies and temperatures in the 80s until Sunday.

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