1986 - Volume #10, Issue #6, Page #19[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
Silo Fire Prompts Neighborly Response"Yes, we know the silo's burning. Thanks"
That's what the hand-lettered sign says in front of Robert and Betty Thumma's silo on their farm near Tipton, Iowa. Haylage inside the silo caught fire last August 10 and was still burning 2 months later. Spontaneous combustion started the fire
and local fire departments could find no way to quench it. All the Thummas could do was wait for the 2/3's full silo to burn all the way out.
But even though they made the decision to wait out the fire, passersby still get concerned on busy Highway 38 which runs past their farm. People continually turned up the driveway to tell them about the silo fire and some people even called the fire department when they saw the smoke.
"It's a busy highway with lots of traffic, so we had to put up the sign. We really appreciate all the concern of people who don't even know us," says Betty.
The Thummas speculate that the hay probably combusted because it was put up slightly more dry than normal. They say the haylage was between 30 and 35% moisture. "Experts tell us that can be too low under some circumstances. Just a couple percentage points can make a big difference," Betty told FARM SHOW. At first they tried unloading the burning silage but the unloader kept breaking down and smoke made it difficult to repair. They pumped tons of water onto the fire, but with little effect. Once the fire burns itself all the way out the Thummas will probably have to reline the silo but they hope it'll still be structurally sound. In the meantime they've rented a silo on a neighboring farm.
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