UPDATE: Suspected Cause Of Major Hay Bail Fire Released

UPDATE: Rock Valley, Iowa — Investigators suspect embers from ground up hay sparked a large fire in rural Sioux County that drew a response from 25 fire departments, including some from South Dakota.

A deputy Sioux County sheriff says a machine had been grinding hay in the area Sunday, and investigators suspect some of the hay left on the ground started smoldering and embers reached the bales of hay nearby. About 1000 large round bales were destroyed in the blaze. Except for Matlock, fire departments in every Sioux County community, four Lyon County communities, and seven communities across the border in South Dakota helped fight the fire.

Rock Valley, Iowa — A hay bale fire in rural Rock Valley caused the response of no fewer than twenty-five fire departments in northwest Iowa and southeast South Dakota and several other responders and volunteers on Sunday afternoon.

According to the Sioux County Sheriff’s Office, at about 3:40 p.m., their communications center received a report of a large hay bale fire at 2121 350th Street, nine miles southwest of Rock Valley, or about four miles east of Hudson. The Rock Valley Fire Department responded and upon their arrival requested mutual aid from other fire departments for water and manpower due to the strong winds and large number of hay bales that were involved.

Mutual aid response from Iowa fire departments included Sioux Center Fire, Alton Fire, Boyden Fire, Granville Fire, Hawarden Fire, Hospers Fire, Hull Fire, Ireton Fire, Maurice Fire, Orange City Fire, Sheldon Fire, Inwood Fire, Larchwood Fire, Doon Fire, Alvord Fire, Akron Fire, and Le Mars Fire. South Dakota Fire Departments that responded were Fairview Fire, Canton Fire, Beresford Fire, Hudson Fire, Alcester Fire, Worthing Fire, and Harrisburg Fire. The Rock Valley Ambulance Squad, Rock Valley Police Department, and Sioux County Sheriff’s Office also responded to the scene.

Rock Valley Fire Chief Brent Eshuis says he wants to thank those who responded to requests for assistance for heavy equipment to help battle the fire. The equipment that arrived to assist included payloaders, tractors with disks, excavators, and telehandlers. Chief Eshuis also thanks Pump and Pack and Sunshine Foods, both of Rock Valley, for food and water donations. Also, he says he wants to thank the City of Rock Valley for checking the water levels, the Rural Water employees who assisted, and the dispatchers who were busy paging all the responders. Chief Eshuis estimated that approximately 200,000 gallons of water were used to extinguish the approximately 1,000 bales as well as ensuring that no nearby cattle died as a result of the fire.

Chief Eshuis says, “I love living in a community where people come together and things just get done. We had volunteers and private individuals make and donate over 400 sandwiches in 20 minutes to help feed the responders. It is amazing how our communities come together to support each other.”