Bertrand, Ne. — Bertrand Fire & Rescue and firefighters from three additional rural fire departments joined efforts on Monday against a large hay bale fire northeast of Bertrand at South Central Feeders. Firefighters were summoned about 12:29 p.m. and some firefighters remained on scene until 9:30 p.m.
Bertrand Fire & Rescue Fire Chief Kevin Stehl said, “they had a hay pile on fire and we had exposures of a large ensilage pile on the south side and a ground hay pile in a shed on the north side, both of which had caught fire in addition to the hay bale fire. There were approximately 600 hay bales in the pile in the center. We had four departments total there on scene: Bertrand, Loomis, Overton and Holdrege.”
Firefighters battled the blaze for several hours and got it under control. Smoldering hay was hauled by South Central Feeders employees to an open field to finish burning. The preliminary estimate puts the loss at 600 hay bales. Stehl says the hay was wet and initial investigation points to spontaneous combustion as the cause of the fire.
A pile of ensilage was separate from the hay bales, but it was next to the bales. The edge of the ensilage was on fire when firefighters arrived, but they were able to contain the portion on the south side of the fire. On the north side of the fire, there was an open-front hay shed that had ground, mixed-hay in it that was catching fire. Some of the fire got into the wall of the hay shed, but firefighters were able to extinguish it.
Stehl says Bertrand provided four trucks and 12 firefighters, Loomis responded with a tanker and a pumper and 7 firefighters, Overton provided two tankers and 5 firefighters, Holdrege brought a tanker, a grass rig and 3 firefighters. Also on scene was a representative of Phelps County Emergency Management.
Fire Chief Kevin Stehl says there were approximately 28 firefighters at the scene, with employees of South Central Feeders also helping. Holdrege and Overton firefighters were able to leave the scene once the fire was brought under control. Bertrand and Loomis firefighters remained on scene performing mop-up duties. They left about 9:30 p.m.
Stehl says there were no injuries reported.