MOWER COUNTY, Minn. — Firefighters in one county in southeast Minnesota responded to three different farm equipment fires on Oct. 6.
Mower County Sheriff’s deputies and the Adams Fire Department responded to a call of a fire of a tractor and to a field of picked corn at the intersection of 640th Avenue and 140th Street in Adams, Minn. at 2:37 p.m.
According to Mower County Sheriff Steve Sandvik, deputies observed a mid-sized tractor and its attachment fully engulfed in fire with thick black smoke rolling from it. He said that much of the stubble surrounding the tractor had burned and was traveling east.
"The tractor operator indicated he noticed a popping noise behind him," said Sandvick in the press release. "He turned to see the fire building behind the cab. The operator was able to safely escape the burning tractor without injury."
Sandvick said the tractor quickly became fully engulfed in fire, and a nearby digger was brought over to turn up the ground around the tractor to stop the fire from spreading to the rest of the field.
No one was injured in this incident, according to Sandvick, but the tractor, a 1990-era John Deere 7710 with an estimated value of $30,000, was a complete loss. Attached to the tractor was a John Deere 520 stalk chopper with an estimated value of $20,000, which was also destroyed.
The second fire broke out less than an hour later at 3:17 p.m., when Lyle, Minn. police, Rose Creek and Austin fire departments were called to a combine fire in the middle of the picked soybean field at 15000 block of 570th Avenue in Austin.
According to Sandvick, emergency responders arrived to the scene to find a large combine fully engulfed in fire facing away from the wind, with much of the cut beans burned away from the combine.
The operator of the combine had a similar experience to the first operator who experienced a combine fire on Oct. 6. Sandvick said the farmer stated that while operating the combine, he noticed some mechanical issues and then an odor of smoke.
"The operator turned the combine away from the wind to investigate what was going on and found a fire building under the hood," Sandvick said.
The Mower County Sheriff said that the combine, a 1999 Claas Lexion 465 with an estimated value of $60,000, soon became fully engulfed in flames and again, a nearby digger was needed to turn up the ground around the combine to stop the spread. The combine, a Ford F540 and a 40-foot bean head were all destroyed in the fire.
Rose Creek and Austin fire departments were able to extinguish the fire without injury.
The third fire call of the day broke out at 7:15 p.m., when Mower County deputies and the Lyle Fire Department responded to a combine on fire in a bean field in the 60000 block of 110th Rose Creek, Minn.
Sandvick said that upon arrival, deputies saw no visible flames but noticed an obvious odor of something burning and visible smoke coming from the combine, a John Deere S680. Fire crews soaked the combine to extinguish any potential fire.
"The Lyle Fire Chief indicated it appeared a bearing was hot and was the cause of the smoke and smoldering," Sandvick said.
There were no injuries during the incident and no estimate of damages provided.
On Oct. 7, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources released an announcement that wildfire risk had increased throughout the state. The state's DNR urged homeowners, woodland owners, farmers and outdoor recreationists to "monitor statewide fire danger and current burning restrictions, which can fluctuate quickly this time of year."
“Don’t fall for the trap that cooler weather cancels fire danger,” said Casey McCoy, DNR wildfire prevention supervisor. “October is historically one of Minnesota’s most active wildfire months.”
McCoy said that following a hard frost, plants stop taking in moisture and begin drying, creating more available fuel for a wildfire.