Hay fire burns for hours in Belen

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A hay fire gave fire crews trouble Monday as thousands of pounds of straw ignited on a semi trailer near south Main Street in Belen and N.M. 116.

About 2 a.m., crews responded to the fire that started on the trailer while the Colorado driver was asleep in the cab of the truck, said Belen Fire Chief Manny Garcia.

Garcia said crews had to wait until city workers removed the bales of hay with heavy equipment, including a bulldozer, to get to the core of the blaze.

He said crews had a hard time getting the fire out because the blaze had plenty of fuel once the bales were taken off the trailer on the lot. He estimated the hay was spread out over about an acre of land.

"The fire was away from the roadway, away from property," Garcia said. "It gave us a little more time to fight the fire. The hardest part was to get access to the fire itself from the hay bales."

Garcia said there were 32 bales of hay that weighed two tons each. Crews from Belen, Los Chavez, Jarales and Valencia County responded to the fire.

The fire chief said if it weren't for city employees, crews "would still be fighting (the fire)." He said the fire was time consuming, and city crews stayed on scene until about noon to mop up hot spots.