Fire destroyed 6,000 bales of corn stalks south of Colo-Nesco High School on May 25.
Story County Sheriff’s Deputy Nick Lennie saw lightning in the area around 7:15 a.m., and when he passed the bales shortly after, smoke had begun to rise, said Colo Fire Chief Mark Farren.
Collins, State Center, Zearing and Nevada fire departments reported to the scene, in addition to Colo Fire and Rescue.
“We put about 40,000 gallons of water on it and it wasn’t doing a thing,” said Farren. “We just had to let it burn.”
Farren said the fire continued burning for days, with sheriff’s deputies and firefighters keeping an eye on things.
“We were checking every hour at least, or probably more than that for a while,” Farren said.
The fire took place on 695th Avenue south of Highway 30. Farren said officials were concerned about the smoke decreasing visibility on Highway 30.
The flames consumed the middle of three piles of corn stalks.
The piles, which belong to DuPont, are 500 feet long, 24 feet wide and 18 feet tall, said Nevada Fire Chief Dana Wipperman. He said a main concern of the fire was the safety of the other two bales, located just 200 feet away on either side of the one which was destroyed.
“There’s three groups of three baled corn stalk piles. There’s three in a clump, then there’s 200 feet, then there’s another,” Wipperman said. “This group was in the middle of the three.”
Farren said the fire departments protected the other bales with the use of water curtains and foam. The fire departments are planning to meet with DuPont to discuss possible improvements in stacking to avoid such destruction in the future.
The corn stalks are being saved for use in the making of ethanol when the new DuPont plant begins production. The plant will be located just west of Lincolnway Energy in Nevada.