The embers continue to smolder at the scene of last week’s massive four-alarm hay fire in Winters, but the hay distribution business affected by the blaze is pressing on.
“We’re back in business and doing our thing,” Haykingdom office manager September Ford said Tuesday, five days after the 10-acre fire destroyed an estimated 15,000 tons of hay. “We’re moving forward with what’s left.”
Total losses from the fire are still being calculated, but are expected to reach into the millions of dollars, Ford said. The amount of hay that burned “is about a third of what we export per year,” primarily to Asia.
More than 100 firefighters from Yolo, Solano, Sacramento and Colusa counties responded to the fire, which was first spotted at about 10:30 p.m. Thursday on the Haykingdom property at 26888 County Road 90. Fire officials said the blaze appeared to have started on a tarp-covered stack of hay bales and quickly spread to other nearby stacks, sending flames an estimated 200 feet into the air.
The fire, which also destroyed four barns and a hay press valued at $2 million, triggered an air-quality alert as smoke drifted as far away as Lincoln, Yuba City and the Bay Area.
“It’s burning down as anticipated,” though people traveling through the area will continue to see smoke for the next few days, Winters Fire Chief Aaron McAlister said Tuesday. “The weather’s helped. It’s been cooler, and there was slight precipitation over the weekend.”
As for the fire’s cause, that remains under investigation by a joint team involving the Winters Fire Department and Cal Fire.
“I think everything’s still on the table, from natural causes to intentionally set,” McAlister said. “We’re not ruling anything out at this point.”
It also remains to be seen whether the blaze is in any way related to a pair of haystack fires that broke out nearly simultaneously outside of Davis on the night of Aug. 16, first along County Road 102 south of Road 29, then minutes later along County Road 99D, also south of Road 29.
Though their causes were undetermined, both fires were deemed suspicious in nature, Davis Fire Department Division Chief Paul Swanson said. Losses from those incidents totaled as much as $70,000.
The August fires are being investigated by the Yolo County Sheriff’s Department’s agriculture task force, sheriff’s spokesman Mark Persons said. Anyone with information is asked to contact either the Sheriff’s Department at 530-668-5280 or the Davis Fire Department at 530-757-5684.
— Reach Lauren Keene at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-747-8048. Follow her on Twitter at @laurenkeene