Combine catches fire; neighborhood evacuated - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Combine catches fire; neighborhoods evacuated

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Dozens of people were evacuated from their homes in Plains Wednesday evening after a harvester caught fire in a field around 5:00.

Dry, breezy conditions spread the fire quickly to a wood line and close to homes. The combine driver is okay. He hopped off just in time before flames quickly spread through the field and nearby fuel tanks.

Neighbors in the MLK subdivision said they heard an explosion and several loud booms when the fire spread.

Combine driver, Adam O'Hearn, was cutting wheat on this 80 acre field when he looked behind him and saw flames. O'Hearn believes the blades that cut the wheat got so hot, it sparked the blaze.

"My heart was racing, and I thought I've got to save this combine or get out of here and run," said O'Hearn.

He tried to back up the combine off the field onto the road when the flames reached the trees and quickly spread to fuel tanks on tractor trailers used for grain storage. They exploded in a matter of minutes.

310 bushels of wheat filled the brim of the brand new $300,000 combine. It had a full tank of fuel. The Sumter County Sheriff's Office evacuated people from their homes on Graham street and the MLK subdivision

"I heard boom boom and I looked up and saw smoke," said Bobby Sims, who lives across from the field that caught on fire.

He went door to door helping people evacuate. Firefighters battled the smoke and flames for hours near downtown Plains.

"I'm 65 years-old. I've lived here all my life and I've never seen anything like this," Sims added.

"I'm just glad the wind was blowing the other direction and didn't reach those homes," O'Hearn said.

Even though O'Hearn will never forget the blaze and booms, he says he's blessed to be alive. Firefighters say the dry air and wind made conditions worse.

They got everything under control around 7:00. No one was hurt and no structures were harmed. The combine was not destroyed. Part of it was burned.

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