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Massive fire burned 38,000 bales

6/27/2013

By ANGIE HAFLICH

Special to The Hays Daily News

MOSCOW -- A fire that started May 28 near Moscow and destroyed an estimated 38,000 hay bales has been out since June 5, but Abengoa Bioenergy personnel continue to spread the remaining hay out to check for hot spots.

Stevens County Emergency Services Coordinator Rodney Kelling said the Stevens County and Moscow fire departments turned the situation over to Abengoa Bioenergy, the company that owns most of the hay bales, on June 5.

Chris Standlee, Abengoa executive vice president, said Abengoa personnel have been working on the scene to ensure there are no more hot spots.

"The fire is out. There are no flames, but what we're doing is making sure we spread everything out really well and grate it out and make sure there are no hot spots or anything like that. It's just kind of a long process. It's a tough thing to do, but we're going to be done with that in the next couple of days," Standlee said.

He said when Abengoa personnel took over, there were some areas were still smoldering.

"That's why we're being real careful, to make sure that that's going to be completely (out) and cooled down and that sort of thing," Standlee said.

Kelling said the Stevens County and Moscow fire departments are continuing to monitor the situation.

Standlee confirmed the number of bales lost in the fire at approximately 38,000.

"That sounds about right," Standlee said. "We probably lost about 16 big stacks, and each stack was about 1,100 tons -- each one of those stacks is about one day's production for us, so we lost about 16 days worth of seed stock, is what it boils down to."

He said the dollar figure of the loss for Abengoa is unknown.

"We're working with our insurance company, but we don't have any final numbers at this point," he said.

Preliminary findings from the Kansas Department of Emergency Management indicated the fire was caused by lightning, but those reports have yet to be confirmed.

"The cause is still undetermined and is under investigation," Kevin Doel, public information officer for the Kansas Fire Marshal's Office, said in an email. "The total loss is over $2.5 million, which includes hay bales and hay sheds."

Most of the hay bales involved in the fire belonged to Abengoa, but Kelling said Cattle Empire lost one stack. Each stack consists of 2,500 to 3,000 bales.

Once it is confirmed that there are no more hot spots, Standlee said, clean up of the site will begin.

Officials from Cattle Empire could not be reached for comment.