Equipment Failure Leads To Wildfire
2/21/2022- Okeechobee County, Fl.
A hay baler caught fire Sunday and caused approximately 20 acres of a field to burn. Florida Forest Service was contacted by a local rancher after his equipment caught fire. 2 dozer/plow units were dispatched and proceeded to put breaks around the fire in order to stop it's forward progression. The dozers performed a pinching maneuver to contain the fire in the shortest time possible. The Okeechobee County Fire Department dispatched a brush truck to help put out the burning hay bales and to also mop up the edges to help put the fire out. The fire had burned close to a barn and some other structures used for storage and equipment. Approximately 50 round hay bales were lost in the fire. The cost of the damaged equipment totaled about $25,000. This is not including any fences that were burnt or damaged.
Agricultural equipment is notorious for catching fire during operating periods. Bearings get hot, grass gets caught up in the wheels or other areas and the heat from equipment causes it to burn. Usually the fire is too big to manage once its discovered. During the spring harvest months, Florida becomes dry, the winds pick up, and the natural fuels become more volatile. This causes the perfect equation for wildfires started by equipment. Hay fields are known for catching fire this time of year due to the dry and dead grasses. Florida also had a couple of very bad freezes this year which has killed off vegetation and added more fuel to the existing terrain.