Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Straw-bale maze goes up in flames

Sheriff’s Office investigating cause of incident

Express Staff Writer

    A straw-bale maze built to enchant visitors in the Bellevue Triangle caught fire over the weekend, giving a real scare to people gathered for the event.
    “They were open for business. There were signs up and people were coming in,” when the blaze began on Saturday, said Jeff Nevins, Wood River Fire and Rescue assistant chief.
    The fire occurred on Pero Road south of Bellevue on property belonging to John Fell Stevenson. The maze was comprised of 1-ton bales on a 100- to 150-foot area. At least seven fire engines from Wood River Fire and Rescue, Bellevue, Hailey and Carey responded to the fire, which continued to burn for at least 24 hours, said Nevins.
    “The whole surface of it burned. The straw bale strings then melted and came apart and the interior portions of the bales ignited. You could see the smoke for miles,” said Nevins. “Fortunately the neighbors brought in loaders and started tearing the maze apart, hauling pieces of it to a nearby plowed field. The property owners also fired up a sprinkler system to protect surrounding property.”
    The cause of the fire is under investigation by the Blaine County Sheriff’s Department.
    “We are told that it was lighted by a juvenile with a lighter,” said Nevins.
    “I know it was not naturally caused,” said Sheriff Gene Ramsey. “We are looking into it.”   

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