Hay Fire

Hay Fire

Hay Fire in Cornish

Hay FireA little more than a week ago, there was a hay fire in Cornish, Utah.  Although there were no injuries and the cows nearby were saved from danger, 350 tons of hay were destroyed.  How could this happen?  The answer is spontaneous combustion.

Spontaneous Combustion?

Yup.  It just goes up in a blaze of its own accord.  Well, okay, the process is a little more complicated than that.  The problem arises when the hay bale gets wet.  If the load is above 20%-25% moisture levels, and the load is large enough, heat can get trapped inside the bale.  Certain bacteria found in hay really love high temperatures, and if you create a heat trap, they start to multiply.  This causes a chemical reaction inside that can become self-sustaining.  It builds up heat until it gets too hot and bursts into flame.  Once it goes up, there’s little you can do but try to protect the surroundings, because the fire is nearly impossible to put out.

So what can you do?  Well, there are a few things.

Minimize Moisture

covered hay bale                  The key to preventing hay fires is to minimize the amount of moisture in the hay.  First, before you cut your hay, you should check the weather conditions.  Generally speaking, you want to have less than 50% humidity levels in the air when you cut and bale your hay.  Keep in mind that moisture levels go up over night, so if there’s any question, it might be worth it to delay a day or two.  Check the weather reports and schedule your work appropriately.

The way you bale the hay also matters.  When baling your hay in round shapes and stacks, you should go for the tightest possible packages.  This will help prevent rain and morning dew from penetrating the inside of the bale and creating hot pockets.  Specialized equipment can crimp or abrade the hay, which speeds up the drying process.

If possible, store your hay inside.  When storing inside, make sure you don’t have any leaking pipes nearby.  If you can’t store it inside, try to keep your bales covered with waterproof tarps.

Check the Temperature Regularly

Once you have your hay baled, be sure to check on it regularly to make sure the temperature is staying in the safe zone.  The danger begins if the inside of the hay bale reaches 150 ° Fahrenheit (65 ° Celsius).  Combustion isn’t for certain at this point, but be sure to keep checking on it to be sure.  If it hits 160° F (70° C), then you’re definitely in the danger zone and should start checking it every few hours.  If the temperature reaches 175° F (80° C), then you need to call the fire department for assistance and immediately move it away from anything that might endanger the surrounding area.  The hay may continue to rise in temperature, up as high as 212° F (100° C).  At that point, combustion is guaranteed, if it hasn’t gone up already.

Hay Fires Are Easily Preventable

By following some simple safety guidelines, it’s fairly easy to prevent hay fires.  Even if pockets of bacteria and heat get trapped in a bale, the organisms don’t always reach critical point.  Even if they rise to the brink of the danger zone, the amount of bacteria fluctuates, as does the temperature.  There may be several periods of warming and cooling in the hay without anything going wrong.  So, with some careful observation and safety procedures, you should have no problem keeping things under control.

Accidents Happen

Even though the risk is not very high and it can be prevented, accidents happen.  If a hay bale does combust, hopefully you’ve been able to move it away from other flammable materials.  Fighting a hay fire is difficult because the hot pockets inside the bale can be difficult to reach.  Call the fire department as soon as you see the problem arise.  The fire fighters will do everything they can, but you’ll have to accept that at least the hay bale is lost.  You should be able to save your barn and home, though.

Smoke Damage

PromiseEven if you save your barn and home, hay fires produce a lot of smoke and residue.  This gunk can have a real nasty smell to it.  It will coat any surface it can, leaving its lingering smell and staining the paint job.  Fortunately, if that happens, you have us to help you out.

Alpine Cleaning and Restoration is an expert on fire damage restoration, and that includes smoke damage.  If a hay fire should damage your home – or worse, if the fire itself damages your home – get in touch with us.  Our professional restoration team will give your house a thorough cleaning.  After we’re done, we guarantee you won’t even have the lingering smell of smoke to remind you of the fire.  We work with your insurance company to help get you the best price on this process, letting you get back on your feet all the faster.

Don’t wait.  We’re always ready to help.

Fireworks Safety in Cache Valley

Fireworks to Celebrate

fireworksJuly is known for fireworks. As we celebrate Independence Day – and Pioneer Day for Utah – we light up explosives. We dazzle ourselves with the bright colors and deafen ourselves with loud noises. The noise drives our neighbors and their pets crazy. It’s a good time all around.
It’s also a fire danger. Even though the 4th has passed, fireworks are lit up all month long. It’s not always legal, but there’s always a few people ready to slide the law. We’re not here to judge you for that, but just don’t ignore your fireworks safety.

Fire Hazards

Fire is always a risk of setting off fireworks. Just this year alone, firefighters have already had to put out several blazes. In the past, wildfires from mishandled fireworks have caused significant damage to the Logan Canyon mountainside. It’s no leap of logic to see how they could even set your house on fire, too. Be sure you follow these safety tips.

Safety Tips

  • Never allow young children to handle fireworks
  • Older children should use them only under close adult supervision
  • Clear a wide area around where you intend to use fireworks to minimize the risk of fire
  • Never use fireworks while impaired by drugs or alcohol
  • Anyone using fireworks or standing nearby should wear protective eyewear
  • Never hold lighted fireworks in your hands
  • Never light them indoors
  • Only use them away from people, houses and flammable material
  • Never point or throw fireworks at another person
  • Only light one device at a time and maintain a safe distance after lighting
  • Never ignite devices in a container
  • Do not try to re-light or handle malfunctioning fireworks
  • Soak both spent and unused fireworks in water for a few hours before discarding
  • Keep a bucket of water nearby to fully extinguish fireworks that don’t go off or in case of fire
  • Never use illegal fireworks
  • Fireworks sold in brown paper are for professional use only; do not buy them if you don’t have proper training.
  • Always be aware of the fire hazard warning for the day. Cache Valley posts the fire danger for every day, so be sure to check it.

Sparklers

sparklersSparklers are a favorite firework for many. When I was a kid, everybody wanted to play with them. They’re fun, but they are dangerous. Sparklers burn at temperatures up to 2000 degrees, which is hot enough to melt some metals. Contact with the burning end of the sparkler will cause third degree burns almost instantly. That’s nothing to sneeze at. Given the danger, it’s probably best not to let children play with them (especially not younger children), but if you do, be sure you watch them closely and be ready to take them away at the first sign of things getting out of hand.

Keep Pets Away from Fireworks

It may be tempting to want your precious pup to join in the fun, but this is a bad idea. Animals are extremely afraid of loud noises and burning smells. Fireworks produce these in abundance. If you don’t lock your pet inside during the celebration, more than likely it will run away. This could result in your pet getting lost or injured. That’s not a risk you want to take.

If The Worst Happens

Even with proper precautions, fireworks are dangerous. Injuries are always possible and you should know what to do. If someone is burned by a firework, remove clothing from the burned area and call the doctor immediately.
The worst case scenario would be an eye injury. If there is an injury to the eye, be sure you prevent the injured person from touching or rubbing it. Do not attempt to flush it or put ointment on it. As above, call the doctor immediately. With quick enough medical attention, it may be possible to prevent permanent loss of eyesight.

For More Information

There are specific times of the year when it’s legal to buy fireworks in the state of Utah. The Utah fire marshal has helpfully provided a flier for the dates. For the specifics of the state laws for fireworks in Utah, you can go here.
Staying safe is an important part of our July celebrations, so be sure you follow all our safety tips. If your home should be damaged from fire during these celebrations, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. We’re a full-service restoration company with lots of training. We employ the most experienced professionals in the field of fire restoration. We’ll get your home back in living condition in no time.
Otherwise, we hope you have a safe and fun July!