Re "Huge hay fire still burning" (Our Region, Sept. 28): It is possible that "spontaneous ignition", usually referred to as "spontaneous combustion" was the cause of this catastrophic fire. The article states that the blaze started from a hay stack outside of cover. The recent long and drenching rain penetrated the hay stack and resulted in extreme heating of the interior of the stack. The process is quite complex, and results from a combination of microbial growth and chemical changes in the wet hay, but its occurrence is common under such conditions. In this case, the use of "super compression" may have been a contribution factor.
The Cooperative Extension Service of Washington State University at Pullman, WA has published an article entitled "Spontaneous Combustion of Hay" in which the authors warn of this hazard as a result of recent flooding. This information should be known to every hay producer, and can be accessed by googling the article's title.
-- Charles Raguse, Woodland