In the late afternoon of May 21, the ink on the deal to transfer the Rogue River Ranch to the Cow Creek Bank of Umpqua Tribe of Indians was barely dry. At that time, spontaneous combustion caused a bale of hay to ignite and from that beginning, some 600 tons of hay burned along with a barn and some the equipment on the ranch. The afternoon was cool but the wind was blowing nearly 30-miles per hour, causing the flames to intensify quickly and the entire hay storage went quickly from that point.
Along with the hay were several pieces of equipment and the barn used for storage. The afternoon was cool and rain threatened, so there was little for Fire district #3 to do when they arrived shortly thereafter. The flames were intense and took two more days to completely burn out. Metal roofing was melted like plastic and lay on the ground twisted from the heat. All other structures were saved and as the barn was burning, the irrigation system was dumping water on pastures and haying areas around the farm.
It was reported that all loses were covered by insurance and the operation will continue as normal. A majority of the fields in the ranch are in hay and forage production while others intended for planting in corn and other crops.
The Cow Creek Bank of Umpqua Tribe of Indians has progressive plans for the ranch, part of which is to improve the efficiency of the land. A portion of the beef produced on the ranch will go to supply the KBar restaurant at the Casino in Canyonville. While the ranch has been producing large quantities of hay, the intent is to increase production by a large amount and to change the mix of species to help build the soils.
The fire was a setback, but as is the case in any agriculture, those are part of the nature of the beast. Recent, unseasonal cold and rain have caused havoc with ranchers who are putting off the cutting until a drying trend occurs. In the recent past, two historic barns in Eagle Point have been destroyed by fire; both were full of hay and equipment.