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County burn ban in effect after Tuesday fires

Mower County is implementing a ban on open burning until further notice after three fires that occurred Tuesday at various locations throughout the county.

According to Mower County Sheriff Steve Sandvik, the first fire occurred at about 2:37 p.m. in the intersection of 640th Avenue and 140th Street in rural Adams. Upon arrival, deputies observed a mid-size tractor, a John Deere 7710, and its attachment, a John Deere 520 stalk chopper, fully engulfed in fire with thick black smoke rolling from it.  Much of the stubble surrounding the tractor had burned and was traveling east towards 640th Street.

The tractor operator indicated he noticed a popping noise behind him and turned to see the fire building behind the cab. The operator was able to safely escape the burning tractor without injury.

The tractor soon became fully engulfed and a nearby digger was brought over to turn up the ground around the tractor to stop the fire from spreading to the rest of the field. The Adams Fire Department arrived on the scene and extinguished the fire.

The tractor, valued at $30,000, and stalk chopper, valued at $20,000, were a total loss.

The second fire occurred at about 3:17 p.m. in the 15000 block of 570th Avenue in rural Austin. Upon arrival, deputies observed a large combine, a 1999 Claas Lexion 465 with a F540 40-foot bean head, fully engulfed in fire in the middle of a picked soybean field. Much of the cut beans had burned away from the combine.

The operator of the combine stated that he noticed some mechanical issues in the mechanism and an odor of smoke. He turned the combine away from the wind to investigate what was going on and found a fire building under the hood.

The combine soon became fully involved and the fire was too hot to be near. A nearby digger was brought over to turn up the ground around the combine to stop the fire from spreading to the rest of the field.

The Rose Creek and Austin fire departments arrived on scene and extinguished the fire. The Lyle Police Department also responded to the scene.

The combine, valued at $60,000, and bean head, valued at $15,000, were a total loss.

The third fire occurred at 7:16 p.m. in a bean field in the 60000 block of 110th Street in rural Rose Creek. When deputies arrived, the operator of a John Deere S680 combine advised there were no visible flames, but there was an obvious odor of something burning and visible smoke coming from inside the combine. 

The Lyle Fire Department arrived on scene and soaked the combine extinguishing any potential fire. The cause of the smoke and smoldering appeared to be a hot bearing.

There is currently no estimate of damages at this time.

No injuries were reported in any of the incidents.

Due to dry, windy conditions, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has added Mower County to a list of Minnesota counties where the fire danger conditions have been labelled “extreme.” Also included on the list are Freeborn, Dodge and Steele Counties.