SA Country Fire Service

Media release


Hay stack fires increasing as temperatures rise



The SA Country Fire Service (CFS) is responding to an increasing number of hay stack fires due to bales being stored with higher levels of moisture.
State Duty Commander Brenton Hastie said the late winter rain had increased the risk of hay being baled wet.
"Increased moisture levels cause a bacterial chain reaction in hay bales when external temperatures rise," Mr Hastie said.
"The result of the chain reaction is a building of heat, which can result in spontaneous combustion of the bales.
"If the bales are stored within a large stack, the fire will quickly spread through the stack and may destroy any surrounding building and equipment," Mr Hastie said.
Mr Hastie said hay stack fires were problematic for the Country Fire Service, as they are events that take days to fully extinguish and may require volunteer crews to remain on site for lengthy periods.
"Primary producers storing hay can help the CFS by monitoring the temperatures of hay bales that are stored, and immediately remove any bales that begin to produce steam or smoke or are showing signs of heat build-up.
"Hay fires are heart-breaking for farmers, as they generally destroy large amounts of feed and nearby machinery, so the best outcome we can have is to limit the chance of the fires starting to begin with by regularly monitoring the stores and lowering the risk of a fire starting," Mr Hastie said.

Media information
For media enquiries call the CFS Media Line on 08 8115 3531.

Government of South Australia