Farmer grateful after combine fire

A combine caught fire Friday evening in Adams Center. Jonathon Wheeler/Watertown Daily Times

ADAMS CENTER — When the combine caught fire in the last couple passes, the operator had to slither out the back as the side door was not an option.

A combine caught on fire in a field Friday night on Fuller Road, sending nearly 40 firefighters from five different departments to the scene. Stephen Winkler, a farmer out of Rodman, rents the property and had an employee combining a field of soybeans. He said his employee was almost done when the machine went up in flames. The back-end of the combine, which is where the engine compartment is, was fully engulfed. The driver couldn’t get out of the cab and down the ladder, so he had to slither out the back to escape.

Mr. Winkler said he had just had dinner when he got the call from the employee. It was around 8 p.m., and by the time he got there, fire departments were already on the scene.

“I’m not a volunteer but I question myself after working all day and finally sitting down and I’m warm eating a plate of supper,” he said. “I really tip my hat to them. They did a beautiful job.”

“And he’s an older gentleman,” Mr. Winkler said. “He’s almost 80 years old.”

The soybeans already in the tractor were a total loss, but firefighters executed a quick knockdown of the fire, he said. Mr. Winkler said they have to harvest corn soon and that they would likely have a plan by Monday.

“All things considered, reflecting this morning, we were very fortunate no one was hurt,” he said. “And the first responders deserve the credit. It makes you feel really good about where we live.”

The responding fire departments were from Adams Center, Adams, Lorraine, Rodman and Smithville.

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