A Nova Scotia farmer is happy that nobody was hurt and grateful for the work of the fire departments that responded to a large blaze in his field Friday evening.
Ian Newcombe, an owner of Dykeview Farms in Centreville, N.S., said the back end of a combine harvester caught fire at about 5 p.m. while workers were harvesting wheat.
"Something ignited. Not sure what, or how, yet," he said. "The boys smelled it, they shut [the combine] down, they used their water cannon and their fire extinguishers to put it out."
They thought the fire was out, but the wind picked up and reignited it. The combine was quickly engulfed in flames.
"We had to get out and watch it burn," he said.
The fire then spread to the field.
Newcombe estimates the fire wiped out up to two hectares of wheat in the 12-16 hectare field. He said a combination of dry conditions and straw left on the field by the combine made for an easy spot for the fire to spread.
"Everything is dry," he said. "You chuck a cigarette out in the field right now, and she's going to go poof on you."
Fire spread under the surface
The biggest problem, said Newcombe, is that the field is on peat, which allowed the fire to spread underground.
While the bulk of the fire was put out by 7 p.m. Friday, he said he believes there were still some spots left burning under the surface on Saturday.
He said firefighters were shoving their hoses down into the ground so the water could go in deep enough. Newcombe expected the fire to be extinguished Saturday.
Eleven fire departments responded to the fire Friday, according to Brian Desloges, chief of the Kentville Volunteer Fire Department.
He couldn't speak to the specifics of the fire, since he himself didn't go to the scene, but he said fires on peat can be challenging to put out, since its organic composition promotes the rapid spread of fire.
"The last time we were there, it was quite a number of years ago — 1990-something. We were there for 72 hours straight," he said.
RCMP spokesperson Andrew Joyce said the RCMP responded to a request to do traffic control in the area where the fire happened Friday night.
'Equipment can be replaced'
Newcombe said he's received a some calls from other farmers since the fire happened, and someone is helping them finish cutting the field this weekend.
"A lot of the farming community, when things like that happen, they come out," he said. "As farmers, we help each other out a lot."
The combine that caught fire was only four years old, so Newcombe isn't sure how it started. But he said he's glad the situation didn't turn out worse.
"How am I feeling? I feel great," he said with a laugh. "It is what it is, nothing you can do about it. Like you say, nobody got hurt, so that's the main thing. Equipment can be replaced."
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