Last night the phone rang after the lights were out (uh oh).

I heard Mikey say: “The one next door? Ok…” and somehow I just knew it was a fire. I also somehow knew exactly where it was. There’s a property that’s been for sale for a couple of years. Yeah, the economy tanked around here too. This barn hasn’t had animals in it for a long time – but there was old hay in the loft.

We’ve been so hot here in central Kentucky with absolutely no relief that the recipe for this disaster was all set. We dressed and bombed up the hill to make sure our friends’ homes and their barns weren’t in jeopardy. As we scattered gravel every which way the firetrucks were arriving – but that barn was a total fireball. We felt the inferno from more than 100 meters away. The fire kept trying to make itself bigger. The unkempt property hasn’t been mowed all summer and the grass is just ready to flame, Even the 4 plank fences surrounding the building were aflame.

We got hoses ready to wet out a border. It was an absolutely still and airless night – which is a wonder, because we’ve been very windy lately. Wind would have guaranteed a hotter struggle if not out and out failure, but for some reason the air was leaden and not moving at all. An orange moon rose up behind the spray of water from the hoses and firemen and the whole thing crashed into a heap of neon amber-edged timbers. The giant plume of smoke rose silently and wafted away on a north by northwest course.

Around here, we’re all putting in hay for next winter, some of which it appears we’ll have to start feeding way early. There are hot stacks of hay all throughout this region. This awful event serves as a reminder for us to go out and restack our bales, even in this heat – especially in this heat. Because spontaneous combustion of stored hay is no longer an abstract possibility. Especially new hay or hay that may have been compromised by old inner rot like this barn had held.


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