Firefighters Fight Two Cornstalk Bale Fires In Two Days

Northwest Iowa — Some round bales were destroyed in a fire on Tuesday, November 14, 2023, near George.

According to George Assistant Fire Chief Josh Eben, at about 1:20 p.m., the George Fire Department was called to the report of a bale fire near 250th Street and Kiwi Avenue, three miles south and two east of George.

The chief says the fire department saw a couple of bales and some winrows of cornstalks on fire, with a large area of random fire spots as they approached the scene. He says along with the water they sprayed, a number of farmers helped them with their tractors and disks, and Eben says the fire department wants to send out a big thank you for that. He says it was especially helpful with the windy conditions.

Assistant Chief Eben says no injuries were reported.

He says the cause of the fire appeared to be sparks from a bearing that went out on the round baler.

Assistant Chief Eben reports that the damage was limited to the bales and stalks.

He says the firefighters who responded were on the scene for about an hour.

The night before, a similar thing happened near Rock Valley. Their fire department was called out to 3648 Dove Avenue for a bale fire. They only had one bale to extinguish, but it was due to a similar cause — a hot bearing on the baler. Rock Valley Fire Chief Brent Eshuis says the farmer noticed the bale was on fire so triggered the bale release and dumped the burning bale, which may have saved the baler from starting on fire.

Eshuis says another farmer injecting liquid manure nearby came over and worked some manure into the ground, using the manure unit as a tillage implement to till firebreaks and make the ground wet around the fire.

Eshuis says his Rock Valley firefighters were on the scene for about 15 to 20 minutes.