We had a tractor fire in one of our old Allis-Chalmers, but we were lucky. We narrowly missed burning down our workshop.
A huge cloud of smoke, then flames, shot up from the workshop as the ewe lambs and farmers moved down the road towards the barn.
Will stashed the sheep; Christopher moved vehicles; Kyle unplugged the burning tractor, released the brake and grabbed and discharged extinguishers; Jake ran to the house, said “call it in”, and then rushed to the scene with our best tractor. Chris hooked it on with a chain, Will steered, and Jake towed it into an empty field. We were lucky the market lambs weren’t pastured there that day.
We’d parked the tractor in the lean-to, an open part of the workshop.
They gathered more extinguishers, emptying them into the smoulder. When those were depleted, Kyle started shovelling in snow.
Five minutes more and the tractor fire would have spread to the Workshop.
Ian called 911 reporting what we believed – workshop fire! Loyalist Township rerouted the ferry and dispatched 2 pumper trucks, while our Island fire fighters charged to help us. Ian rushed toward the smoke with the house extinguishers. By then the workers knew it was ‘only’ a tractor fire, and we called 911 again to report the building was not involved.
The Island First Response crew arrived and hosed it down, reducing the heat and the cloud of dark smoke. The smell of melting wires and hoses and burning diesel was really toxic.
We were also lucky that the tractor fire was in a diesel not a gasoline motor.
A short in the electrical system caused the tractor fire. The heat buildup caused the diesel fuel line to rupture. The tractor fire melted all the hoses, wires and some parts. Our low budget, aging tractors are good for lots, including relatively simple repairs. Our intrepid mechanics, Will and Christopher, took it apart and got it sort of running again, in a week, including waiting for a few replacement parts. There is more to be done.
Did you know that wool is inflammable? It naturally resists flame. I wrapped myself in a throw, then a blanket, when the adrenalin passed and the cold shakiness of the mild shock aftermath hit.
We are grateful to our First Response Team and to the partnership with the Loyalist Fire Department. Thanks to the blind luck of timing, it was only one more minor farm setback.
We all leapt into action to respond to the tractor fire with no discussion or leadership. We’ve had years of teamwork. We all just saw what needed to be done. And we did it.