Firefighters arrive to find 700 tons of hay fully engulfed; crews remained on scene Wednesday extinguishing fire

HOLLY SCHOLZ - High stacks of hay burn at a Madras Highway residence early Tuesday evening.

A hay barn fire at a Prineville residence off of Madras Highway consumed about 700 tons of hay after erupting early Tuesday evening.

According to Fire Chief Matt Smith of Crook County Fire and Rescue, the fire was reported around 5 p.m. When CCFR personnel arrived, they found the hay fully engulfed.

The barn belongs to Prineville resident Steve Forrester, who believes there may have been a wet spot in one of the hay bales that caused it to spontaneously combust.

"The hay had been there for several weeks, a first cutting and a second cutting," Forrester said. "We don't know what cutting combusted, but obviously the hay bales were stacked very high and under compression, and when the humidity got real low with the high temperatures, it just caused a chain reaction and started the fire."

The fire continued to burn through Wednesday evening as crews remained on scene extinguishing the fire. Smith explained that people were pulling bales from the barn and pulling them apart with equipment so firefighters can put them out.

"It is a laborious process," he said.

Forrester praised the efforts of the firefighters, saying they did an excellent job. He hoped the fire would be extinguished completely by some time Thursday.

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