Suspicious Hay Bale Fires Hit Rathdrum Prairie Farmers

Suspicious Hay Bale Fires Hit Rathdrum Prairie Farmers

11 October 2011

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USA — Hay growers on the Rathdrum Prairie hope the community can help bring some light to a series of mysterious fires that have destroyed thousands of dollars of this year’s crop.

One farmer has lost more than 600 tons of straw, hay and grass in three separate fires since July. Another lost more than 100 tons last month.

There are no suspects at this time and Kootenai County fire officials say there is not much evidence left over after a haystack like this burns down. The latest fire happened Friday night off North Huetter, the bales of wheat straw could be seen from the highway, there are even several houses just across the street, but as of yet nobody saw anything out of the ordinary.

This was the fourth fire since July; the first two were timothy grass and alfalfa and the last two were both wheat grass.

Farmers say haystacks can start on fire on their own if improperly baled however Kootenai County fire officials are calling these fires suspicious.

“There’s little or no evidence for each fire, they all involve haystacks and they’re all at night, usually on a Friday, we’ve had one on a Saturday night,” Shaena Dunn with Kootenai County Fire said.

Friday night’s blaze destroyed 61 tons of wheat straw valued at $4,300. In all, the fires have destroyed more than $140,000 worth of baled hay and grass.

Fire officials say once these things start going there’s not much they can do but make sure they don’t spread to other areas.

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