Multiple departments battle 300-ton haystack fire at Bundy Ranch in Bunkerville

Firefighters battle a blaze that started in a haystack containing 300 tons of hay at the Bundy Ranch, Bunkerville, Nev., Nov. 13, 2018 | Photo courtesy of Beaver Dam Littlefield Fire District, St. George News

ST. GEORGE Multiple agencies and water tankers responded to a massive haystack fire reported Wednesday in Bunkerville, Nevada, when hundreds of tons of burning hay kept firefighters busy for more than five hours.

Early Wednesday evening firefighters were dispatched to what was initially called in as haystack and structure fire at the Bundy Ranch on Riverside Road and Gold Butte, Bunkerville Fire Chief Mike Wilson said.

Fire crews found the large haystack engulfed in flames, while the residence located nearby had no signs of smoke or flames.

“Our main goal at that point was to keep the fire from spreading to the home that was in close proximity to the fire, as well as several other structures on the property,” Wilson said.

He said that 300 tons of hay was burning in a haystack that covered an area of nearly 900 square yards, with 300 one-ton bales stacked more than 20 feet high.

Bunkerville firefighters were soon joined by crews from Mesquite Fire and Rescue, Beaver Dam/Littlefield Fire District and Moapa Valley Fire District, which sent crews and trucks from both Logandale and Overton, Nevada.

Large backhoes and other equipment is brought in to battle haystack fire at the Bundy Ranch, Bunkerville, Nev., Nov. 13, 2018 | Photo courtesy of Beaver Dam Littlefield Fire District, St. George News

The fire stations responded with multiple fire engines as well as wildland water tenders or tanker trucks capable of carrying up to 3,000 gallons of water, which was “critical,” Wilson said, adding there were no fire hydrants or external water sources available on the property, at least not initially.

“Once we got there we were able to draft out an irrigation ditch which provided water, once Moapa Valley Fire arrived with the equipment and crews,” he said.

Because haystack fires burn from the inside out, firefighters had to get to fire burning in the center of the pile. They disassembled the haystack and broke apart the individual hay bales.

While the method is effective, it requires large equipment capable of moving large, heavy loads that are typically burning, which can be dangerous, Wilson said.

Even then, the water tends to run off of the top layer of the hay before it reaches the center of the stack where the material continues to burn fed by the oxygen readily available.

“You have to work water into the hay to put the fire out, so we had to spread the hay out over a large area,” he said.

After more than five hours the fire was extinguished, along with any visible embers that could reignite at a later time.

The risk, however, isn’t over, as Wilson said there could be hot spots buried under the material that were not detected, primarily due to the enormous amount of material that was burning. The property owners and ranch workers will keep a close eye on the area over the next few days and were advised to call 911 if they see smoke or fire.

“They could see hot spots for days to come,” Wilson said.

The investigation into the fire’s origin is ongoing.

In some instances, the fermentation process can cause spontaneous combustion, which can occur when air and water cause microorganisms to feed and multiply, a process that generates heat until all of the moisture is gone, Wilson said. However, should the process continue for an extended period of time or at a higher rate, the heat generated can reach a level where it ignites without any external source.

Wilson said the success of the operation hinged upon the mutual aid provided by so many fire departments that responded so quickly, providing crews, large earth-moving equipment and multiple trucks that remained at the scene until the end of the call.

There were no injuries reported during the incident.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!


  • Real Life November 15, 2018 at 5:54 am

    Thank you to the taxpayers, for funding the fire department that put out the flames. Irony?

  • aebundy November 15, 2018 at 6:29 am

    There is no irony here, the Bundy ranch pays thousands of dollars every year in taxes. The federal government was not called in to fight the fire. The heavy equipment used was owned by the Bundy’s and the water in the irrigation ditch was put in and also owned by the Bundy’s. The LOCAL fire departments did a great job protecting the Bundy’s, just like it should be! No irony here!

  • iceplant November 15, 2018 at 8:28 am

    Looks like the phony old windbag finally had his comeuppance with Lady Karma. Karma wins every single time.

    • Happy Commenter November 15, 2018 at 12:09 pm

      Plant, karma does win. Take your meds dude! You’re going to blow out a blood vessel!

  • JOSH DALTON November 15, 2018 at 11:44 am

    The last time the government tried to get on the Bundy’s land they were met with firearms. Why didn’t the authorities remember this and just let it burn. Just like some of these states that want to claim individual rights for the state, then turn around and ask for government assistance when a hurricane or tornado rips through the state. GO FALCONS!

    • Lee Saunders November 16, 2018 at 10:38 am

      Remember it wasn’t Bundy land, it was BLM land that was the controversy 4 years ago.

  • Happy Commenter November 15, 2018 at 2:20 pm

    My eyes hurt from rolling so much from the clueless hateful comments being made.

    • AnnieMated November 15, 2018 at 5:33 pm

      So stop rereading your own comments then. ?

      • Comment November 15, 2018 at 6:58 pm


      • Happy Commenter November 15, 2018 at 7:30 pm

        Everyone knows who the truly clueless are…hahahahaha!! keep commenting!

  • General Seamstress November 15, 2018 at 6:21 pm

    very interesting that local people fight so hard to raise their own beef prices. makes no sense..its the only area in the nation i’ve seen that doesn’t support its local farmer. in reality, many lands that blm has fought hard to overtake and control for various reasons such as ” habit protection from cattle ” etc.. end up ranching themselves as they find out the cattle aerate and support the endangered species. many of the gov’t take over farms actually start ranching way more cattle.. its lucrative and what better way to control your peasants than to control the very food they eat. who r you folks that toss your neighbors aside like you do.. even many of the fed employees that have had to go up against rancher later disclose, they hate it.

    • Lee Saunders November 16, 2018 at 10:41 am

      I wish you would substantiate one single sentence that you wrote. Go for it.

  • mmsandie November 16, 2018 at 8:51 am

    I thought the whole standoff a few years back was because buddy hadn t paid taxes for use of lamd.. what goes around goes back to bite you

    • Lee Saunders November 16, 2018 at 10:42 am

      Wasn’t so much taxes as I remember, but grazing fees on public lands.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.