Six fire departments responded Sunday night around 7:15 p.m. for a fully evolved combine in a bean field off Geo Leilich Road on the border of Smithton and New Athens.
Firefighter Tim Lubenkov’s daughter pointed out the burning combine in the field near their house. When he arrived at the field, Lubenkov watched as balls of fire erupted from the combine as diesel fuel flooded from the machine.
The cause of the fire was not immediately known, although field and combine fires aren’t uncommon when areas become too dry, New Athens Captain Justin Majzel said.
Majzel said they got lucky because the fire did not spread to the large bean field.
“We did not have to encounter a large brush fire, which is normally what happens at these. The rest of the bean field was saved and didn’t burn,” he said.
By 8:00 p.m., the fire was mostly out and firefighters continued pouring foam on the machine, which was still extremely hot and in danger of catching fire again.
Majzel said they were placing a large dirt moat around the combine so if a part of it does catch again, the fire won’t spread to the field.
Smithton, Hecker, Freeburg, Marissa, New Athens and Fayetteville fire departments responded to the call. No one was injured during the fire.
At about 9:15 p.m., the combine caught fire again, according to the Southern Illinois Fire Incidents page.