Last week, the Hancock County Road Department lost 2 John Deere tractors to fire – a 2012 & 2014 model. The cause of the fire is unknown. Judge/Executive Johnny W. Roberts, Jr. explained that, “Our road department had finished mowing for the day and they were at the intersection of Yeakel and Quisenberry Road.
Like they do every day, they parked the tractors and went back to the shop, as it was about time to go home for the day. Then, I guess they heard the call out, where one of the tractors was on fire. When they got out there, they were both fully engulfed. That happened so quickly that there wasn’t much they could do. The fire department did a great job, but with the fuel in the tractors, they were both engulfed so quickly. We’re working with insurance to get a value placed on that for replacement cost.
We bought a new one last year. New ones with the mowers on them like that would be around $180,000 for those 6 and 7,000 series John Deeres. I won’t know what this will be valued at until we get a better indication from the insurance company.”
County Road department workers were near Ann Shanklin’s property in Reynolds Station near Patesville at the end of their work day and had asked if they could park the tractors on her property at the corner of Yeakel and Quisenberry Road, and she gave them permission to do so.
The contractor building Ann’s house, John Paul (J.P.) Caisse, was inside the barn and Ann was inside her cabin she’s staying in until her house is built when the first tractor caught fire.
They both heard some loud sounds, which was from the tractor on fire, but she said they didn’t go out to look right away, because they assumed it was the neighbor, Billy Lowery, shooting cotton mouths in his pond. Ann said she thought it was either that, or maybe J.P. was shooting raccoons.
“The third time we heard it,” Ann said, “we all came outside and the flames shot high and hot. They were almost 150 feet from the house (she’s having built), and I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, what if they start exploding?’ And, sure enough, there goes the blasts popping all over the place. The tires exploded, the hydraulics, you name it, and then the second tractor that had been parked right by it caught on fire and started exploding.
The bank burned, which is probably not my property, that’s Quisenberry, some of that burned. Where the tractors were sitting and maybe a diameter of 20-30 feet of my property burned. I have no idea how much of my property burned, just the corner there.
J.P. called dispatch, and I think it was mostly Duke’s Fire Department that came and put out the fire, but it could have also been some from Pellville, Lewisport or Hawesville, because they parked down there on Quisenberry and kind of far from the house and had everything blocked off so you couldn’t leave my driveway to go check it out. I was up in the barn and house area.”
Ann said firefighters arrived very quickly and worked efficiently to put out the fire before it spread. The house she’s having built is only about 150 feet from where the tractors caught fire, but she said the wind was actually blowing in the opposite direction. Had it spread, it likely would have caused damage to the nearby campground.
There is just low grass in the whole area where the tractors were parked and caught fire. The cause of how it started is unknown. “I don’t have any brush or garbage around my house. It’s all been cleaned,” she said. “It’s a triangle. The house is up in the big part of the triangle, and the tractors were parked down in the point of the triangle.
Everything is fine. Judge Roberts called me again this morning and assured me they are going to make it right. That was the prettiest part of my property. It was gorgeous, green grass, no weeds just grass. That’s the bad part. They can’t help it. There is no blame. It’s just one of those things. He promises to make that right with me.
I was impressed with the firefighters here. They always know what they’re doing. J.P. went down and talked to them (road department workers), trying to let them know it wasn’t there fault. They can’t help it that they caught on fire. They were parked for about an hour or more, maybe about one and a half hours before they caught fire.”
By Jennifer Wimmer