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Thursday, August 9, 2018

BLM offers tips on preventing combine wildfires

For Immediate Release: August 9, 2018
Contact: Kelsey Griffee,, 208-521-8709

BLM offers tips on preventing combine wildfires
Facebook: Idaho Fire Info Twitter: @BLMIdahoFire

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho – As wheat and barley farmers prepare for the harvest season, firefighters are also preparing for the possibility of wildfires caused by combines. Combine wildfires can be devastating, causing hundreds of thousands of dollars in property damage and often resulting in the total loss of the vehicle. The Bureau of Land Management reminds farmers that preventive maintenance is the key to reducing the chances of harvest season wildfires, in addition to prolonging equipment life.

“Every year around grain harvest time, we see an increase in agriculture-related fires,” said Kevin Conran, fire mitigation and education manager with the BLM Idaho Falls District. “To prevent a wildfire, farmers should regularly inspect their combines’ machinery, fuel lines and electrical systems during harvest season.”

Barley and wheat farmers can help reduce the number of vehicle-caused wildfires by:

     Keeping the machine from overheating by removing dry plant material that gets clogged or wrapped around it.

     Servicing equipment at the end of a day, which will help detect overheating components and even prevent smoldering fires that might erupt in the night.

     When checking the oil, quickly scanning any exposed electrical wiring for damage or signs of deterioration, replacing any worn or malfunctioning electrical component with proper parts from a dealer.

     Maintaining heavy-draw electrical components such as starter motors, remote actuators and heating and cooling systems. Keeping these components in good order eliminates a source of ignition for a fire.

     Checking and repairing any fuses that blow regularly. When a fuse blows this should be considered an important warning sign that a circuit is probably overheating.

     Keeping an eye out for leaks. Even small leaks in a fuel or hydraulic system can cause a small fire to become a large one in seconds.

Farmers should always have a cellphone or two-way radio in the cab in case a fire starts. Combines and other large units should also have at least two 10-pound, type ABC fire extinguishers installed. These extinguishers should be inspected regularly to make sure the lock pin is intact, tamper seals are unbroken and the tank is still full.

A second line of defense is to have a tractor and disc on standby to create a firebreak around the combine. This can help keep the flames from spreading across the field or to neighboring properties.

For breaking fire information, follow @BLMIdahoFire on Twitter and search for #BLMIFDFire for posts specifically related to eastern Idaho. For additional wildfire updates, Firewise information, and fire prevention tips visit  One less spark means one less Idaho wildfire.