A glowing sky to the west of Ogallala Saturday night was in fact a large hay fire at a local feed lot. According to State Fire Marshall investigator Ryan Sylvester, a grass fire call came into Keith County emergency around 5:30pm Mountain Time Saturday evening.
Upon arrival, fire crews determined the fire was a hay fire at the McGinly Schilz Feedlot near Brule. Sylvester said no injuries or fatalities have been reported, including the cattle that are housed at the feedlot – though he did say employees will be keeping in eye on the cattle for respiratory problems from smoke inhalation. Sylvester also said no structures were involved in the fire. A worker at the feedlot said 3 – 4 months of hay had burned as of Sunday afternoon.
At this point, Sylvester says he leaning towards spontaneous combustion as the cause of the fire as he continues to rule out other causes. He says spontaneous combustion can occur when hay bails are put up too wet. He said the only other cause he is considering at this time is the possibility of a piece of metal going through the grinder causing a spark. Sylvester continues to investigate the fire. Fire crews from various local communities were at the scene until about 1am Sunday morning, and then were back on scene most of the day Sunday as hay continued to burn.
Sylvester said the most fire crews could hope to accomplish was to contain the fire and let it burn. The fire crews were successful as no structures were destroyed. McGinley Schilz feedlot employees are continuing to work and the feedlot is reportedly remaining open for business as they look to recoup their losses.
Thanks to Josh Mackey, KOGA, Ogallala