Hay Bale Fire in London Grove
By Secretary Bill Wohl
November 30, 2019

A Saturday morning dispatch for a small brush fire, became a multi-hour event involving a large pile of hay bales off of North Guernsey Road in London Grove Township.

First dispatched at 10:28am for the West Grove Fire Company, the brush fire brought a response including Engines 22-1, 22-2, and 22-3, along with Tanker 22 and Brush 22. Chief 22 was advised en route that a 400 square foot brush fire was moving toward a large pile of hay bales.

Responding units could see a large column of smoke as they moved north from West Grove toward the fire scene, which was located at the intersection of North Guernsey and Hilton Roads. Chief 22 went on location reporting that the hay pile was now involved. He had responding units come down a long dirt driveway to attack the fire, which was also involving a pile of wood and cut trees.

Engine 22's crew attacked the fire with numerous hand lines, but it was clear that the fire would require additional water resources. Chief 22 established Command and requested two additional tankers. Engine 22-3 departed the fire ground and responded to Guernsey Road near the US Route 1 Bypass to established a tanker fill site. Tankers from Cochranville and Avondale were dispatched to assist Tanker 22 with shuttling water from the fill site to the fire ground.

As the WGFC has learned from years of experience fighting hay bale fires, water alone will not extinguish these fires. The most effective technique is to use machinery to break apart the burning hay bales and spread them out so that the hose lines can fully douse burning materials. A large track hoe was brought to the scene, and that machine and a backhoe were used to spread the hay for the firefighters. This effort proved successful after several hours of work.

In all, more than 26,000 gallons of water were used on this fire. Crews returned to the West Grove station and cleaned up trucks and hundreds of feet of dirty fire hose. There were no injuries.

Units: Engines 22-1, 22-2 and 22-3, Tanker 22, Brush 22, Utility 22, Squad 22, Fire Police, Ambulances 22-1 and 22-2
Mutual Aid: Tanker 27, Tanker 23, Rescue 23, London Grove Twp FM 59