By Ryan Gueningsman
MONTROSE, MN A trailer full of hay almost made it to its destination, a horse farm by Delano, but it became sidetracked after the hay started on fire between Montrose and Delano last Monday morning around 11 a.m.
Leroy Julius, 68, of Slayton, was driving a pickup truck owned by Nelson Hay Company of Hadley. Owner Kevin Nelson was traveling ahead of Julius at the time of the incident.
The wheel bearing went out on the trailer, resulting in the fire, according to Nelson. In addition to the hay, the trailer was also carrying a Bobcat.
Julius pulled over to the side of the road in the area of Highway 12 and Brighton Avenue and the Montrose Fire Department was called to extinguish the fire. Delano Fire Department was also called in to assist, providing a tanker and additional manpower.
Julius told authorities the trailer had been loaded for three days and that he had been on the road approximately 150 miles before he noticed the flames, according to the state patrol.
“We passed a deputy sheriff as we were coming into Montrose, and he was at the fire and said he didn’t see anything when we passed him, so it had to have been right after we got out of Montrose,” Nelson said.
A portion of the hay fell off the trailer and was burning in the roadway, causing Minnesota Department of Transportation representatives to push it into the shoulder of the road and let it smolder out.
The Montrose Fire Department was called back several hours later when some of it rekindled, according to the state patrol.
Nelson, who has been in the hay business since 2001, said nothing like this has never happened to him or any of his drivers in the past, but said he knows of other business owners that it has happened to over the years. He said Julius has been driving for him for three or four years, and he was not injured in the incident. Hadley is located in southwest Minnesota.
The Bobcat and trailer suffered fire damage, according to the state patrol. Nelson said the Bobcat and trailer had to be totaled as a result of the fire, and said the truck received about $10,000 worth of damage to the rear end.
The Wright County Sheriff’s Office also assisted at the scene of the fire.
“It was a freak deal,” Nelson said.