Firefighters from six different departments spent almost 12 hours Wednesday making sure a hay fire didn’t turn into a wildfire north of Chico.
Homeowner Will Robinson was welding inside his barn on County Road 1650 just before 11 a.m. when a spark caught in a stack of approximately 2,000 square bales of hay. As he worked to try and extinguish that fire, it spread under the barn’s north wall and ignited a grass fire outside the barn.
Caught in that blaze were several pieces of equipment and a trailer with about six round bales of hay stacked on it.
Once firefighters arrived at the scene just north of Chico, Robinson was able to hook up to a baler and hay rake parked in that area and drag them out of harm’s way. He suffered minor burns on one hand and was treated at the scene by Wise County EMS.
The outside fire was knocked down fairly quickly, but with a little wind and warm, dry conditions, getting the hay to stop burning turned into an all-day exercise for firefighters from Chico, Bridgeport, Crafton, Alvord, Decatur and Runaway Bay.
“There were over 2,000 square bales inside the structure,” Wise County Deputy Fire Marshal J.C. Travis said. “Firefighters really couldn’t get to it because of the intense heat, so we brought in heavy equipment and literally dragged all that hay out into the pasture to the north of the building.”
Travis said firefighters created a firebreak around that area and back-burned inside it to keep the fire from spreading. He and Fire Marshal Chuck Beard were on the scene until around 9 p.m. as firefighters worked to get the blaze contained.
“With square bales being $6 to $7 a bale, we’re talking about $14,000 worth of hay and $40-$50,000 in damage to the barn,” Travis said.