Fire consumes large haystacks in Lakewood

LAKEWOOD – Flames engulfed two large haystacks Tuesday night at a farm on Pleasant Valley Road, keeping fire crews at the site for more than two hours.

At 10 p.m., the Woodstock Fire Rescue District was called to 11820 Pleasant Valley Road in Lakewood. They found two stacks of hay – each about 20 feet high and 20 feet wide – on fire. A house and a barn were between the haystacks, which were about 300 feet apart, said Deputy Chief Terry Menzel.

“The farmer had been piling two large stacks of hay for sale,” he said.

Firefighters stayed until 12:30 a.m. to douse and control the flames. Woodstock fire crews received assistance from the Union and Huntley fire protection districts.

There were no reports of injuries or structure damage.

Back-up crews returned to the site “several times throughout the night and in the morning” to check for flare-ups, Menzel said.

The Woodstock Fire Rescue District, which has a station in Lakewood, provides fire protection to the village of Lakewood under a five-year intergovernmental agreement.

The cause of the fire was undetermined and is not being investigated further, Menzel said. He hinted at the “possibility of spontaneous combustion” because the haystacks appeared to be moist, with a tarp-like material covering them.

Earlier Tuesday, the National Weather Service issued a heat advisory for the area, which remains in effect throughout the week. Heat indexes could range from 100 to 113 degrees, the weather service reported. The heat index is a measure of how hot it feels when humidity is combined with actual air temperature.

Menzel advised the public to not store wet hay in a small space, such as a shed, and to not cover hay.

“It’s a cause for concern [during these weather conditions],” he said. “If it can’t release the heat, it can self-ignite.”

When the fires were all over early Wednesday, crews had used 22,000 gallons of water, Menzel said.

The fires occurred just hours after restrictions on water use went into effect in Woodstock because of drought conditions. Residents with even-numbered addresses are permitted to use water for outdoor purposes from 6 p.m. to 9 a.m. on even-numbered calendar days, and residents with odd-numbered addresses may do the same on odd-numbered days.

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