Fire destroys leased combine
By Jan Rahn
A John Deere combine was fully engulfed by the time firefighters arrived on the scene in an early afternoon blaze nine miles north and three west of Grant on Monday, Nov. 21.
According to Grant Fire Chief Don Softley, the machine worth approximately $250,000 was a total loss.
The combine was being leased from South Dakota by Thomas Land Company of Ogallala.
Only two or three acres of dryland corn and stubble burned before firefighters from Grant, Madrid and Venango had everything extinguished around the combine, said Softley. Wind was not a factor and the fire was soon under control.
The cause of the fire was due to heat buildup from husk and chaff debris getting trapped, which probably led to igniting the fluid in the hydraulic lines, said Softley, and the fire quickly spread.
Approximately 14 personnel from the three Perkins County fire departments descended on the scene in multiple vehicles to run nozzles and provide water supply.
“All of us [fire departments] have difficulty getting help during daylight hours,” said Softley. “Our automatic request for mutual aid proved to be extremely beneficial, as both Venango and Madrid were able to assist, responding with minimal crews also.”
There were no injuries in the fire that shot flames nearly 25 feet into the air from burning tires, diesel and hydraulic fluid, said Softley.
Those involved in harvesting the corn tried to put out the fire with extinguishers but it quickly got out of control.
“I’m thankful they called when they did,” said Softley, “They did the right thing in getting the fire departments in route.”
Even if they’d gotten the fire extinguished before the firefighters arrived, it was better than taking a chance on the field burning, he said.