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A fire story, to warm you all up.

Discussion in 'Agricultural Operations' started by RocksnRoses, Dec 12, 2009.

  1. RocksnRoses

    RocksnRoses Senior Member

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    About three weeks ago, we had six days straight where the temperature reached somewhere between 100 F and 105 F every day. We then had a couple of cooler days and then the temperature soared again. It is harvest time here and all of the farmers are flat out harvesting. On the 19th of November the temperature hit 105 F at about 11:30 am and the wind was really starting to gust up from the north. A neighbour about 4 km south east of us was loading his truck in the paddock and when he went to start it, we believe a loose battery clamp arced on the terminal, dropping sparks in to the wheat stubble. For the next three hours all hell broke loose. At the height of the fire, the temperature climbed to 109 F and the wind was gusting up to 60 kilometers an hour. All up, it travelled 8 kilometers, burnt 3,000 acres, of which 300 acres were crop, a hayshed with 100 big square and round bales and 200 sheep, which I had to bury next day. Besides that, two of our local CFS trucks collided head on in zero visibility and five crew were injured. Fortunately the injuries were not too serious and they are all OK, although two were air lifted to Adelaide for observation. Then as we were working on securing the eastern flank, ready for a 50 kilometer an hour wind change from the west, lightning started two more fires, about 25km away and one of them burnt right into the back of a small town right on the coast. That one burnt about 300 acres of crop. There were two or three other small ones as well.

    A couple of days after that, we had an inch of rain and have had more showers since, with quite cool weather, although they are forecasting 102 F for next Wednesday.

    The fire even made the Internet: http://www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?t=12799

    This is what our local paper had to say: http://www.ypct.com.au/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=6317

    These are a couple of pics from the paper showing the fire burning through wheat crops and the two fire trucks that collided.
     

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  2. RocksnRoses

    RocksnRoses Senior Member

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    Once the fire was contained, they wanted a loader to push trees in on the eastern flank, because a 50 kilometer wind change from the west, was forecast for later on in the evening. Here are a few pics, the first one being the two fire trucks, then clearing trees from the road, pushing trees in and the last one, well there are some earthmoving jobs, I just do not enjoy at all.

    Rn'R.
     

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  3. bill onthehill

    bill onthehill Senior Member

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    Had to do that with over 100 pigs after a barn fire. Can't help but feel bad for them as there was no escape from the flames. Glad to hear you got a little rain but the moisture won't last long at those temps.
     
  4. AtlasRob

    AtlasRob Senior Member

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    Many of us envy you the warm weather but we tend to forget about the terrible consequences of a misplaced spark.

    I think the statement " all hell broke loose" is probably putting it politely after the devestation that parts of your country suffered recently from fires.

    Real glad those guys had no serious injuries. I dont envy you those muckshift jobs either, although I bet the trees were a bit of fun :D
     
  5. RocksnRoses

    RocksnRoses Senior Member

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    These sheep were some young breeders, that a mate of mine had just bought in and they were running in a small paddock close to his house. When the fire came through, it came through that fast, they did not have time to shift them and the sheep had nowhere to go. Fortunately his house and sheds were saved.

    Certainly didn't have to worry about any greenies. The problem was that they are old ti-trees and most of them were burning in the centre. With the wind blowing so strong, I had to be careful that sparks were not blown out ino the unburnt area.

    Rn'R.
     
  6. OCR

    OCR Senior Member

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    A fire story:

    I hear you Rn'R... a very unfortunate and unpleasant situation, to have to deal with... :(

    So far, I've been lucky... and I'll continue to count my blessings.


    OCR
     
  7. td25c

    td25c Senior Member

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    You done what you had to do R&R.I hate those types of dirt jobs as well mate.
     
  8. roddyo

    roddyo Senior Member

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    Burning Wheat Fields

    We used to have trouble around here in the wheat when catalytic converters first come out. They would get cherry red hot and sit a wheat field off before you knew what happened.

    Most people that farmed learned pretty fast.

    Landlords were a different story.:rolleyes:
     
  9. RocksnRoses

    RocksnRoses Senior Member

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    Well, OCR and td25c, I certainly hope I don't have to do it again, for everyone's sake.

    We have had a couple of fires started in the early days when catalytic converters first came out, roddyo, but most country people are aware of them. It is a bit of a worry at holiday time, when the city people head out into the bush.

    A bigger problem here at the moment, are the new rotary headers, of both colours and particulary when reaping lentils. There have been no major fires, but one in particular, a brand new Case 9120, has had ten instances where it had, either smouldering material on the machine, or dropped it on to the ground. The owners are dragging three long chains to try and get rid of the static electricity. Lentils are particularly bad, because they seem to create a lot of static electricity while being harvested and they produce a very fine dust which ignites easily. A couple of people actually came out here, from the factory in the US, to try and work out what the problem was with this machine. The green ones are not immune from the problem, either and there have been instances, where they have lit fires while harvesting lentils. A mate of mine who has an STS, had a small fire and afterwards one of the CFS crew picked up the chain that he was dragging on his header, and the shock from the chain nearly threw him backwards. Both these farmers are fastidious operators and keep their machines very clean.

    Rn'R.
     
  10. AtlasRob

    AtlasRob Senior Member

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    Amen to that.

    Christ, if it aint the weather its the crop !! You need to get some spare batteries hooked up on them chains and save that power. You could be first to the up and comming regeneration market for harvesters. ;)
     
  11. RocksnRoses

    RocksnRoses Senior Member

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    It would be interesting, Rob, if there actually was some way of measuring static electricity. Ever since rotary headers were introduced here and that includes all brands, there have been quite a few instances of fires starting with no obvious cause, or farmers finding a patch of chaff and dust, smouldering somewhere on the machine. As time went on, the question of static electricity was raised. Farmers noticed that the dust was sticking to the cabin windows, but as soon as they started dragging chains, attached to the machine, the dust disappeared. Everyone here, now drag chains and most farmers blow their machines down regularly, to prevent dust and chaff building up, but despite all this, some of the new machines, like the one I mentioned, have a real problem. The other side of it is, that there are thousands of these machines working here and around the world and they do not cause any problems at all.

    Rn'R.
     
  12. bill onthehill

    bill onthehill Senior Member

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    Could this be a case of too many isomount rubber bushings not letting the charge get to the chains? Modern machinery goes to great lengths to minimize vibration where old stuff was bolted together. Perhaps a few grounding straps from the header to the machine or chain would help get rid of the charge.
     
  13. RocksnRoses

    RocksnRoses Senior Member

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    That is an interesting comment, Bill. I know the fellers with the 9120 were taking bolts out of the engine bay, I think, and were cleaning all the paint off them, to help conduct the static electricity. Like you say, a few earth straps should help. I will have to catch up with them and find out a bit more and I will be interested in hearing what the Case technicians come up with. Some people are saying it is all the plastic that is being used on the new machines and others are saying it is because they are pushing so much more material through them.

    RnR.
     
  14. RocksnRoses

    RocksnRoses Senior Member

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    Well, we had another header fire today, about 6km from here, but I think this one might have been a mechanical fault. Fortunately, although the temperature was up around 100F, there was not a lot of wind, and it only burnt about 120 acres of standing wheat crop.
    Tomorrow's forecast is for 102F with strong northerlies and extreme fire danger.

    I think I would almost settle for a good snow storm at the moment.

    RnR.
     
  15. AtlasRob

    AtlasRob Senior Member

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    No you wouldnt :D

    I need to be having a word with a few members in Canada as somebody must have left their freezer door open last night. I woke up to -4c :tong
     
  16. stock

    stock Senior Member

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    We have moved on and now were lost....
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    Eire
    Ye Rob it was that here last Night when I was walking home full of antifreeze and Christmas Cheer
     
  17. RocksnRoses

    RocksnRoses Senior Member

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    The temperature is back to a very pleasant 24C (75F) and only rising to 34C (93F) between now and Christmas, with patchy rain forecast for Wednesday and Thursday. Perhaps we will hold off on the snow storm for a little while, although a white Christmas certainly would be different.

    RnR.
     
  18. EdB

    EdB Active Member

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    Combines, fires & drag chains

    I too heard the hint about dragging a chain from the frame of a combine to keep the machine from building a static charge. At the time, it was supposed to help keep the glass windows from attracting dust and make them easier to keep clean. Later heard that it was supposed to help prevent fires. I tried dragging a worn out chunk of stainless steel roller chain. Aside from the feel good factor, I really couldn't say that it did any good. After all, when is the last time anyone stepped off a combine and got a shock as he had his hand on the step rail and touched the ground? I've been around combines for some years, and typically work in hot, lo-humidity conditions; much like the guys in Oz do. So, a few years ago, I did an experiment to see if the static buildup is mostly myth and whether the conductivity of the tires does what I thought it would do. Here's what I did:
    Tires vs. drag chain.

    I had time to check out just how conductive combine tires are, whether they insulate, and whether the drag chain helps, hinders, or is mostly psychological. Here is what I found:

    Front tires are bias ply 30.5 X 32 and the rear tires are 16.9 X 26. I ran the front tire onto a sheet of bright, untarnished copper and one lead of a Fluke 77 VOM to the copper sheet and the other to one of the lug bolts of the rim. In order to confirm that readings didn't reflect capacitively charging the machine and affecting the reading, I took readings with leads first connected one way and then the other. There was no noticeable difference in the resistance readings that was dependent on the polarity of the test probes. The readings also remained constant, indicating no capacitive charge or discharge. Front tire lug bolt to sheet reading was 97 KΩ. When I moved the combine to place the rear tire on the copper sheet, I got a value of 350 KΩ for the back tire. That gives us two paths with a resistance of 97K and two with a resistance of 350K. If I remember my basic Ohms Law, to find the value of resistors in parallel you sum the reciprocal of all the values and then find the reciprocal of that number to determine total resistance. I came up with 37.975 KΩ from combine frame to ground. If you consider that walking across a carpet in a dry room will charge your body to about 35,000 volts, then the path to ground offered by the tires would let nearly 1 amp of current pass at that voltage level.​
    Enough static buildup to start a fire? I don't think so. I did hear from one guy who tried the drag chain method. He put one on his combine years ago to keep dust off the windows,that did not work,did do a couple of things. It beat all the paint off the combine frame in the area where it is mounted,and once when crossing a barb wire gate with a splice in one wire,it snagged that splice in a chain link and balled up the gate under the combine. :(
     
  19. Squizzy246B

    Squizzy246B Administrator

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    Its just another reason why Lentils should be banned!:throwup:throwup:stirthepot
     
  20. Squizzy246B

    Squizzy246B Administrator

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    G,day RnR...its forecast 36-37 most days this week and we aren't getting a southerly to cool off. I heard of a header going up in smoke over Esperance way last week.

    Anyway, I'm off to chuck a bombie in the kids wading pool:pointhead:D