WITH an early onset of hay season, Victorian farmers and the Country Fire Authority (CFA) are raising alarms about the risks associated with high moisture content in hay. This comes in the wake of a recent incident in Kerang where seven hay sheds, each housing 800 bales of hay, caught fire due to hot northerly winds and a subsequent ember attack.
Kerang Captain Ramon Steel recounted the harrowing scene, noting the unexpected wind change that led to an uncontrollable firestorm. “We were hit with an ember attack and the fire spread to a further six sheds,” said Steel, who has served as a firefighter for 39 years.
CFA Chief Officer Jason Heffernan warned of the dangers of baling hay with high moisture content, especially in green hay, which can heat up and lead to spontaneous combustion. Heffernan urged farmers to be vigilant about their hay production and storage conditions this season.
Heffernan also advised regular monitoring of haystacks for signs of heating, such as steam or unusual odours. “By being vigilant, you’re protecting yourself from the financial impact of losing valuable fodder and protecting your property and family from the potential danger of hay fires,” he said.