Comanche County_Smoke billowed in eastern Comanche County on Monday after a hay baling machine sparked a grassfire in a field just off of Highway 7 - ironically it was a fireman who accidentally started the fire. When he tried to throw the burning bale into a nearby pond, matters were made worse when the fire spread.
Cox's Store Fire Chief Al Dreves says that current dry conditions are a major concern, despite the recent rain in our area. The problem is that rain soaks quickly into the ground after a rain if the ground is already dehydrated, leaving the grass as dry as ever. It's dry grass that helped to fuel Monday's blaze - it can go up in flames in a matter of seconds.
Cody Hansen was baling hay and discovered first-hand what can happen if sparks fly. While he was baling, a chain suddenly snapped and sent a spark flying into the hay. "I smelled it, and looked in there, and the bale was already on fire," he said. Hansen attempted to drive the baler to a pond to extinguish the blaze, but it was too late - the baler itself had caught fire. "I got up in the pond and was splashing water on it, but it didn't go out," he said.
Dee Davis owns the baler and says the most important thing to him is that Cody wasn't hurt. "I made sure that he was okay, told him that if it got too bad, just get out and leave it alone - it wouldn't be worth getting injured for," he said. Hansen made it out of the situation without injury, and even helped out when his fire department - Central High - arrived to help battle the blaze.
Dreves says that even though Texoma does not have a burn ban issued, conditions are dry. "Right now it is dry," he said. "We got the rain, that's fine...I mean, it's in the ground...it ain't on top where this grass is." It isn't only those baling hay who need to be cautious - it's everyone. "I just tell them to be very careful when they're burning - that's all I can tell them," he said. "Be really careful."
Cox's Store, Bethel, and Central High Fire Departments along with county graders, all helped to extinguish the blaze. It took about an hour-and-a-half to get it under control and mop up some hot spots. Despite all of their hard work, they were still called back out to the location a few hours later because it re-ignited.