With much of Ark. dry, hay fires a growing risk

HOPE, Ark. (AP) - More than one-third of Arkansas is experiencing a drought, and that poses a particular risk for farmers growing hay.

Hay can catch fire during mowing. A common cause is a mower blade striking a rock and sending out a shower of sparks.

Firefighters say it is difficult to extinguish burning hay bales. Round bales have to be torn apart or, if in a flat area, unrolled. Otherwise, the bale would be likely to flare up because the hay is so tightly compacted.

Hay that has been baled when it's too moist can spontaneously combust. If the hay is wet, microbes can flourish and give off heat. When a bale is at a temperature of 180 degrees or more, a fire can start.

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