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.

Fire in Hyrum City

Hyrum City FireStorage Facility Burns

Two weeks ago (6/15/2019), a fire broke out in the Armor Storage facility in Hyrum city at about 8:15 PM.  According to reports, the fire had burned for five whole minutes at least before the fire department was called.  People first tried to put the fire out.  There was plenty of water nearby, but the cluttered building made it impossible to get to the fire’s starting point.  The initial estimates say the fire has caused at least $1.5 million in damages, but it could be as high as $5 million (Source).

Fire Safety

Fires can be devastating.  They continue to burn until put out, or until they run out of fuel.  This means that if fire fighters can’t get them under control, they can destroy your entire house and all its contents.  Fortunately, fire fighters are well-trained and can usually get things under control before it becomes a total loss.  Even so, if a fire breaks out, there’s going to be some damage.  It’s a good idea to know what to do in these cases.

Know What Fires You Can Put Out

Every second counts in a fire.  As stated previously, witnesses at the fire in Hyrum tried to put it out on their own before calling the fire department.  This wasted precious time and probably contributed to how much was destroyed before they got it under control.  It’s important to know when you are able to put a fire out on your own.  If you can’t put it out, call the fire department immediately.  The types of fires that you can put out on your own include:

1. Small Fires on Ordinary Combustibles

If the fire has just started and it’s on ordinary combustibles, like paper, fabric, wood, or trash, usually you can put it out with water.  Trash fires are an example of this type.  If you catch it early, you can put it out before it gets out of control.

2. Grease Fires

Grease fires are common enough in houses.  You’re cooking some breakfast and you walk away from the stove for just a second and suddenly the grease in the pan overheats and catches fire.  These kinds of fires should never be put out with water, as spraying water will simply spread the grease around – and spread the flames.  If a grease fire starts in your home, the appropriate response is to take the lid of a pan and cover the flames to smother them.

This category also includes any flammable liquid fires.  Generally, a good CO2 fire extinguisher will do the trick.

3. Early Electrical Fires

Electrical fires get extra juice from the power source where they started.  If you spot an electrical fire breaking out, the first thing you need to do is power off whatever device started it, by unplugging the device if you can, or by turning off the circuit to the socket it started from.  Then you need to use a dry chemical extinguisher to put the fire out

All of these instructions only apply when the fire is still small at the start.  Once it hits a certain point, it’s too big for you to stop it on your own.  Be sure to call the fire department as soon as you find the fire if it can’t be put out quickly.  Do not waste too much time trying to put it out if it’s already out of control.

Fire Alarms

Fire AlarmMake sure you have up-to-date fire alarms with charged batteries in them.  Modern fire alarms last a long time before they need replacing, but even so, it’s a good idea to check your alarms and make sure once every six months.  Fire alarms will help you notice fires quickly, and this can make all the difference in how much you can save from the disaster.

Fire Restoration

Once the fire is put out, you’ll need to have the damage fixed.  Fortunately, Alpine Cleaning and Restoration is a full-service fire restoration company.  Our team of highly trained experts can recover and repair many different possessions.  As independent contractors, we can also repair damage to your home.  Our perfected cleaning techniques can even remove the smoke smell from your home, so not even a lingering trace remains.  We work closely with insurance companies to make sure that you get the best deals possible for your restoration.

If you’ve been hit with a fire recently and need help getting your home back on track, get in touch with us today.  We’ll get you back on your feet in not time at all.