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Fire Officials Seeking Cause of Haystack Blaze

Authorities are trying to determine the cause of a blaze that erupted in the middle of a 187-ton hay pile at the Ventura Hay Co. early Friday morning.

The 2 a.m. fire initially threatened to burn a neighboring barn, a small home and a travel trailer.

No structures were damaged, however, and no one was injured, said Ventura County Fire Department spokeswoman Sandi Wells.

Firefighters arrived at the 11570 N. Ventura Ave. business expecting to find a dumpster fire, but instead discovered flames leaping from a haystack 60 feet wide and 12 feet deep, Wells said.

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Hay fires are particularly difficult to battle, she said, noting, “It spreads so quickly.

“The fire’s heat dries out the hay and spreads, just really perpetuating itself.”

Firefighters evacuated homeowner Chuck Nordstrom, who hosed down his house before being forced to leave.

Residents of the trailer were also evacuated.

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Firefighters, dousing the blaze with a combination of water and foam, kept the flames contained to the hay and had the fire under control by 2:30 a.m., Wells said.

Authorities said much of the hay that burned was a top-grade brand known as Timothy, which typically sells for about $16 a bale, versus lower-grade hay that sells for $7 a bale.

Owner Seymour Nereyda opened Ventura Hay Co. four months ago.

Authorities estimate his business’ loss to be about $30,000.

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