Malfunctioning hay baler ignites field fire in Sheffield

(Hannah Shirley) Sheffield and Great Barrington fire departments responded to a brush fire at the Larkin Farm on Lime Kiln Road on Tuesday.

SHEFFIELD — A local police officer was treated for smoke inhalation Tuesday after a West Road hay field went up in flames.

Sheffield and Great Barrington fire departments responded to a reported brush fire at the Larkin Farm on Lime Kiln Road around 12:30 p.m. Tuesday. When the first units arrived, they found a hay baler fully engulfed in flames and the hay field set ablaze, according to Sheffield Fire Chief Dave Ullrich.

Ruth Piernock, who lives next door to the farm, said she called 911 after looking out the window and spotting farmer Jim Larkin driving his tractor up and down the field, pulling the baler as it spewed flames out the top.

While some onlookers wondered why Larkin didn’t stop the tractor when he realized what was happening, that decision is what likely saved him from serious harm, Ullrich said.

“The farmer actually did a good job,” Ullrich said. “If he stopped the tractor, the tractor would have been fully involved too, so he kept driving around.”

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