Tinder dry conditions in the countryside
Delhi firefighters contained a stubble fire in a rye field on Hawtrey Road Wednesday near the intersection of Norfolk Road 20. There was about 100 acres of flammable material on site but firefighters confined the flames to a one-acre parcel. MONTE SONNENBERG / SIMCOE REFORMER
Norfolk received a reminder Wednesday that conditions in the countryside are bone dry and that brush fires can break out anywhere at any time.
Delhi firefighters scrambled to a farm on Hawtrey Road near Norfolk Road 20 Wednesday afternoon after a large patch of rye stubble caught fire during a joint combining and baling exercise.
“A belt got stuck and got hot,” custom worker Ryan Hanson of Burford said at the scene.
Hanson suspects chaff on a machine caught fire and dropped to the tinder-dry stubble below. The field in which Hanson’s crew was working covers about 100 acres. Firefighters, however, were able to contain the flames to an area covering about one acre.
It was a near thing. The fire broke out next to a barn and an adjoining house. The crew resumed work once Delhi firefighters had the situation under control.
A torrential downpour dumped about 12 millimetres of rain on Simcoe over a short period of time Tuesday afternoon. While Simcoe got soaked, large parts of Norfolk missed the deluge and remain ripe for wildfires.
Norfolk Fire & Rescue regards the situation with some alarm because the county experienced very little rainfall in July.
Dr. Harold Schroeter, a hydrologist with an extensive archive of local weather records, said this week that this July was the seventh driest in Norfolk since 1930.
This week, Norfolk fire prevention officer Scott Pipe said any fires set in Norfolk from now until regular rainfall returns must be monitored closely and thoroughly doused before they are abandoned.
Pipe added that people need to be aware of their surroundings and the proximity of flammable materials such as dried grasses, grain stubble and the like.