SA Country Fire Service



Haystack fire risks


This week's haystack fire at Narrung is the latest incident triggering the SA Country Fire Service (CFS) to ask farmers to take care in storing and monitoring hay this season.

Hay fires spread quickly and often result in thousands of dollars damage. The fire that started yesterday at Narrung caused at least 300 thousand dollars damage, while the Bowmans hay plant fire has cost more than 11 million dollars.

Haystack fires have a range of causes, such as sparks from machinery and equipment, embers from nearby burn-offs, or bushfires and lightning strikes. Hay can also self-ignite when excessive heat builds up.

If hay has too much moisture, bacteria and fungi can grow and generate heat, potentially igniting a fire.

CFS State Coordinator Leigh Miller said recent rains may have increased the risk.

"It is important to remember that just one damp bale is enough to ignite a haystack, so make sure you protect all bales from rain and leaks. If bales become damp, they should be stored separately and closely monitored."

"If you get hay from another area, make sure you know the history and moisture content of the hay before you store it."

"Be aware that hot hay may suddenly catch alight if it is pulled apart, so if any part of the stack is near or above 70°C or you see or smell smoke, you should call 000 immediately."

Haystacks can be monitored by using temperature probes. Other signs of heating include:
- Steam rising from haystacks.
- Condensation or corrosion under hay shed roofing.
- Mould growth in or on bales.
- Unusual odours (burning, musty, pipe tobacco or caramel).
- Slumping in sections of the haystack.

Make sure haystacks have enough airflow to allow heat and moisture to escape. Limit the size of haystacks and maintain fuel breaks around them.

More information on farm fire safety including hay safety is available on the CFS website:

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

Further information
Information Hotline: 1800 362 361.
Hearing or speech impaired users phone: 1300 555 727 then ask for 1800 362 361.
Teletype service: TTY 133 677 then ask for 1800 362 361. More options are available at National Relay Service or

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 Government of South Australia