'Get the grain out': wheat dryer catches fire near Melfort
A building holding 1,200 bushels of wheat is still standing after a fire started early Wednesday
A building that was actively drying wheat is still standing after it caught fire near Melfort early Wednesday morning.
Heaters were on and about 1,200 bushels of wheat were in the grain dryer when it lit up in flames around 1 a.m. CST on Wednesday.
Fire crews from Melfort were called out to the grain dryer fire in a rural area about 10 kilometres south-east of the city.
"Our goal was to get the grain out of the dryer onto the ground," said Melfort fire Chief Jason Everitt.
The firefighters and farmer who owns the dryer had to deal with several problems, though.
It was extreme cold, with temperatures dipping down to –29 C and a wind chill that felt like –38 C. Water hoses easily freeze up in those temperatures.
Plus, the building isn't meant for people to enter so firefighters couldn't easily tackle the fire from inside.
They sought out a last resort option.
"We cut holes in the side of the grain dryer and then that allowed us to drain the grain from the dryer itself in a controlled fashion," Everitt said.
That method ended up working. Firefighters used a big industrial vacuum, called a GrainVac, to get the grain away from danger and allow it to cool down.
The wet harvest this year is keeping grain dryers busier than most other years. Drying grain with natural gas has been particularly expensive this year than others because of the extra expense of a new carbon tax.
"These dryers are in significant use around the province and these events do happen," Everitt said.
He said they have not yet determined what sparked the fire.
The grain dryer is still standing but seriously damaged. Everitt said he's not sure if it needs to be replaced or can be repaired.