'They just burn and burn and burn': Massive bale fire costs Alta. farmer thousands

A Tuesday morning fire destroyed hundreds of hay and straw bales, costing an Alberta farmer thousands.

The fire happened at the Metke Farm west of Millet, around 40 kilometres south of Edmonton.

“I came out around four in the morning and the trees were all glowing,” said cattle farmer Trazz Metke. “(I) fired up the tractor, went over there and tried to move as many bales as I could.”

Metke said he was able to save 30 bales of hay, but lost 150. He uses the hay to feed his cattle.

“I’ve got about 200 heads of cattle I take care of by myself. My dad passed away in February,” said Metke.

“I feed them 12 bales a day, I don’t even… I only have enough for two days now and I got nothing… I’ll probably have to go to the neighbours and ask them.”

He estimates the cost of the lost hay bales alone is around $10,000.

Bale fires are extremely challenging to extinguish. Once unburnt bales had been removed by the resident, our units with “pump & roll” capabilities spent considerable time surrounding the fire with water to prevent fire extension into any grass.
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— Millet Fire Dept ���� (@milletfire) April 13, 2021

According to the deputy chief of the Millet Fire Department, they heard around 500 bales of hay and straw were on fire.

“We were actually responding to a different call and noticed some fires,” said Deputy Chief Travis Palmer. “There was smoke visible for miles around.”

Firefighters were on scene for around four hours before the fire was considered under control.

“Bale fires, especially really tightly wrapped bales, they just burn and burn and burn and really the only way to put them out is to tear them apart,” said Palmer.

“If we were to have taken that route today, we would probably been there for, I would say, at least a 24-hour period.”

One truck remained on scene to monitor the fire. Crews sprayed the surrounding area to prevent the fire from spreading after decided to let the bales burn out.

“There was really no risk that this could go anywhere… we wetted things down to the point where it would have to travel quite some distance before it could start back up in any other way.”

Palmer said some of the volunteer firefighters in the department are farmers. He heard them speculating the lost bales could have been worth between $70 and $150 each. He estimates the total loss to be in the tens of thousands.

Fire officials were still on scene Tuesday afternoon and had not yet determined a cause.

With files from CTV News Edmonton’s David Ewasuk