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County fire crew keeps watchful eye at haystack fire scene

July 27, 2001|By DARREN SIMON, Staff Writer

BRAWLEY — An Imperial County fire crew remained at a hay-compressing company near here this morning to watch for flare-ups two days after fire ravaged haystacks in the business.

County fire Capt. Lon Hettinger said crews were expecting to leave the scene by 9 this morning because there were no signs the fire would rekindle.

Fire crews remained on scene since the blaze erupted at Border Valley Pressing at 604 E. Mead Road on Wednesday. While the fire was controlled by Thursday morning, the concern was hot spots could ignite the blaze again. That didn't happen.

Still, the fire took its toll, destroying two haystacks, each about two stories high, and damaged shaded facilities under which the hay had been placed. A third smaller haystack also was destroyed.


There were no injuries in the fire, and a damage estimate has not been determined

Hettinger said a cause had yet to be determined and most likely would never be since any evidence probably was destroyed in the fire.

Firefighters from throughout the Imperial Valley responded to the fire, which sent thick black smoke into the skies near Brawley.

Twenty-four firefighters battled the blaze. While crews put water on the haystacks to control the fire, there was little they could do to extinguish the blaze. The fire had to burn itself out as its fuel source, the hay, was burned.

The fire ignited in a large haystack placed under a metal shaded facility inside the hay company shortly after it was trucked into the business, according to fire officials.

One problem, Hettinger said, was the effort to move hay not thought to be burning away from the fire actually caused the blaze to spread to other haystacks. Hettinger said apparently some of the hay moved away from the fire had hidden burning embers that allowed the fire to advance to other stacks, increasing the work of fire crews.

Hay company employees joined the effort to control the fire, helping put water on the blaze and using forklift-like devices to spread the hay to make the fire easier to control.

Staff Writer Darren Simon can be reached at 337-4082.

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