A Craig Fire/Rescue firefighter douses the back of flat bed trailer full of hay after it caught fire Sunday afternoon. The fire occurred along U.S. Highway 40, approximately 10 miles west of Craig.

Photo by Jerry Raehal

A Craig Fire/Rescue firefighter douses the back of flat bed trailer full of hay after it caught fire Sunday afternoon. The fire occurred along U.S. Highway 40, approximately 10 miles west of Craig.

Craig Fire douses two blazes

Firefighter sent to hospital, released in good condition

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A Craig Fire/Rescue firefighter douses the back of flat bed trailer full of hay after it caught fire Sunday afternoon. The fire occurred along U.S. Highway 40, approximately 10 miles west of Craig.

— Ken Wolgram was driving his 2002 Dodge truck westbound on U.S. Highway 40 about 10 miles past Craig on Sunday afternoon when he was flagged down by a passerby.

The message: The hay in his flatbed trailer was on fire.

Wolgram said he pulled over and attempted to put out the fire, but it was useless.

"It was up in flames in 30 seconds," he said. "It was like gasoline."

Craig Fire/Rescue was dispatched to the scene at 12:25 p.m., marking the second fire the department reported to Sunday. The hay bale fire sent a firefighter to The Memorial Hospital because of heat exhaustion.

HIPPA law prevents the firefighter's name from being released; however, Fire Department Deputy Chief Bill Johnston reported the firefighter was in good condition and released Sunday afternoon.

Hay bale fire

After his efforts to put the fire out were unsuccessful, Wolgram detached the truck from the flatbed trailer and moved it out of distance.

The fire caused three of the trailer's four wheels to burst. The hay fire spilled onto the ground, catching the grass on fire.

Five fire trucks, an ambulance and 14 firefighters responded to the hay bale fire. Johnston estimated it took the department 20 minutes to knock down the flames, and another hour and a half to mop up the area.

The fire still is under investigation, Johnston said, "but things are leaning toward a mechanical failure with the trailer, such as a bearing or a brake overheating, which ignited the hay bails."

Traffic both ways on Highway 40 was backed up during the firefighting effort for at least an hour.

Gas plant fire

The first fire of the day broke out at 6:47 a.m. at a gas processing facility - CE-Cown, 9,000 County Road 33, located by the Knez Divide - causing flames to shoot up into the morning air.

Plant operators turned off the fuel and power to the boiler separator that caught fire before the Fire Department arrived.

"The fuel to the boiler was shut down, and it just kind of burned itself out at that period of time while we cooled it, to protect the equipment and prevent it from exploding," Chief Chris Nichols said.

He estimated it took about 20 minutes for the department to gain control of the fire, "because you never want to put those kind of fires out until all the product has burned itself off because of environmental reasons."

The chief said there are no environmental issues with the fire at this time.

"There is obviously product that can spill on the ground," Nichols said. "All the runoff water we were using to control the fire was contained by the plant's containment dike system."

The exact cause of the fire has not been determined.

Nichols said neither of Sunday's fires could be directly correlated to hot weather - though it could have played a role in the hay fire.

Still, he warned "things are getting extremely dry," and that people should be careful, especially this week with the Fourth of July holiday.

"Leave the fireworks to the professionals," he said. "Grass and brush is taking off instantly. : We need caution in any outdoor fires whatsoever."

Other notes: The Fire Department also responded to a one-vehicle rollover crash on County Road 5 around Mile Marker 15 at 7:16 p.m. Friday.

The driver refused treatment.

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