GLADEWATER, Texas (KLTV) - Gladewater residents are discovering that it takes a long time for 300 bales of hay to burn.
The hay was still on fire near Loop 485 and Highway 80 in Gladewater, 24 hours after firefighters first saw the smoke, and there will be people keeping an eye on the fire until the last bale goes out.
The hay is being pushed around and spread out by a bulldozer driven by 91-year-old Hack Thompson.
“We’re going to try to just burn it on out. We’re not going to get it put out anyway we’ll just waste a lot of water,” Thompson said.
Thompson is a long time farmer and owns property nearby. He also helps out on John Linder’s property where the hay caught on fire.
“It’s all you can do is like we’re doing now just burning it and keeping it under control,” Thompson stated.
He says the hay bales just don’t want to go out.
“They tried for five hours to put it out yesterday,” Thompson revealed.
On Monday, they, at least four fire departments, worked on the fire from 11:30 a.m. to dark. Gladewater Firefighter Justin Reneau said the hay was under the metal barn, and they had to take it out:
“Bale by bale and put it over here out of this barn because we can’t get to all of it. We got to get it out here and spread it out,” Reneau said.
“What’s so tough about putting out the hay?” I asked him.
“The fire gets inside the hay so you have to bring it out and take it apart, basically bale by bale,” Reneau explained.
Reneau says it was fully involved when they arrived. He says the dry conditions didn’t help.
“All it takes is a little spark on that hay and all that hay together you just can’t get it out,” Reneau said.
Digging a hole and smothering it out with dirt is an option but:
“You know there’s too much underground utilities and stuff here to try to bury it,” Thompson said.
“It is wildfire season so stuff like this happens,” Reneau added.
Firefighters say they may never know the cause of the fire. Thompson, a very experienced farmer, says hay can smolder for days before a fire begins, and theorizes the hay may have been hit by lightning during Friday evening’s storm.