Firefighters, neighbors battle hay blaze

ATLAS TOWNSHIP — With temperatures hovering around 95 degrees, Atlas Township firefighters worked for more than two hours to put out a fire in a load of hay bales Saturday afternoon.

The Davison-Richfield Fire Department sent in a crew to assist with the battle as firefighters quickly became exhausted in the heat, said Atlas Township Fire Chief Steve Bullen.

Neighborhood residents also pitched in, showing up with tractors to help move the hay around, Bullen said.

The fire occurred about 2 p.m. near the end of Atlas Road as a Davison area resident was hauling a load of 200 bales on a gooseneck-type trailer, the chief said.

“The brakes had either started to seize or drag, and the brakes caught on fire,” Bullen said. “He unhooked his truck, but it caught the hay. Once hay gets going, it’s gone. Once hay catches fire, you have to tear all the bales apart with pitchforks and wet everything down.”

The truck was not damaged, but the trailer was a total loss, and there are still piles of hay on the side of the road that have to be dealt with, he said.

Bullen said the mutual aid from Davison-Richfield was a great help, “especially when it was so hot out.”

“On a Saturday afternoon, there’s not a lot of firefighters around, so we were short-handed,” he said. “And they tired quickly (in the heat). That’s why we called in mutual aid. We didn’t need the water, we needed manpower.”