Early morning blaze claims 400 tons of hay

An estimated 400 tons of hay went up in smoke early this morning at the Bill DeRuyter dairy northeast of Sunnyside. Yakima County Fire District 5 personnel were called to the Lewandowski Road dairy at about 1:45 a.m. this morning (Wednesday). A total of 14 firefighters responded to the alarm.

Captain Joel Byam, a Fire District 5 spokesman, said it is believed that spontaneous combustion ignited the blaze.

The initial report to firefighters indicated that a large haystack fire was threatening additional haystacks and a commodity shed. Byam said once on scene, firefighters encountered a 500-ton stack of hay that was burning in the middle of the stack, and was spreading quickly to the rest of the stack.

Employees of DeRuyter were working to move the bales of hay that were salvageable, said Byam.

Firemen began cooling the burning haystack with water and worked to protect nearby exposures so that as many hay bales as possible could be moved.

Byam said it took approximately 45 minutes to slow the spread of fire. The firemen remained on scene to continue knocking down other hot spots. Once all the hay that was salvageable was moved, the monitoring of the burning haystack was left to the property owner.

The value of the 400 or so tons of hay lost in the fire is estimated at $100,000-plus.


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