Tractor blaze creates quite a scene

Farm field fire that is believed to have started when chaff overheated destroys $195,000 Case, creates plume of smoke that was seen for miles

THE SKELETAL REMAINS of a Case 315 tractor created an eerie sight in a field near Port Washington’s south side following a Monday night fire as a firefighter checked the tiller behind the vehicle. Photo by Sam Arendt
Ozaukee Press staff

A thick plume of black smoke rose over Port Washington’s south side Monday night as a farm tractor tilling a field near the Misty Ridge subdivision caught fire shortly before 6 p.m.

The fire quickly consumed the Case 315 Magnum tractor, which was engulfed in flames by the time firefighters arrived at the scene off East Sauk Road just outside the city limits, Port Washington Assistant Fire Chief Steve Schmidt said.

“There was a big plume of black smoke. It (the tractor) was fully involved,” Schmidt said, noting the tractor had about 125 gallons of diesel fuel and 75 gallons of hydraulic fluid.

Jim Melichar, who owns the tractor, said Tuesday it was being operated by Ed Kison, who was tilling to prepare the field for a crop of winter wheat, when Kison noticed flames before the cab.

Kison got out and tried to extinguish the fire, Schmidt said, but was unsuccessful. Residents of the Misty Ridge subdivision called 911 to report the blaze.

“He was really shook up,” Melichar said of Kison.

Schmidt said firefighters quickly extinguished the fire, using about 5,000 gallons of water in an operation that took about an hour.

“It was really hot,” he said, noting firefighters spent a little extra time at the scene to ensure nothing was smoldering.

Melichar, who arrived at the scene about the same time as firefighters, said the tractor is a complete loss.

“There wasn’t much left of it (when he got there),” he said. “The tires were burning. It was just fire.”

Melichar said the tractor’s engine was replaced in spring, and noted the vehicle was valued at about $195,000. The tiller can be salvaged.

Melichar said he believes the blaze started when chaff built up in an area hidden by a plastic shield below the cab and overheated. 


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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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