Sunday, April 22, 2018
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Hecox says he was ‘tricked’ during Halloween harvest fire

Combine destroyed after going up in flames.

A close call with casualty is what John Hecox describes as a Halloween trick.

While harvesting corn on Halloween night, a couple miles east of Maxwell, the local farmer said he looked at his right-side mirror and spotted flames spewing from the combine’s engine compartment.

“I grabbed the data card from the computer, bailed and tried to put it out with a fire extinguisher,” Hecox said, noting that he reported the fire to his grain cart driver before leaping out.

Then, going against his training as a volunteer fire fighter, Hecox re-entered the cab and grabbed his tool box, rifle and jacket and started running from the fire.

“I then realized I didn’t have my cell phone and couldn’t stand the thought of losing my new iPhone,” he said.

After crawling back in, he found his phone and tried to save a two-way radio.

“I then heard banging and popping and decided to ‘get the heck out of Dodge,’ ” Hecox said.

Fire departments from Maxwell and Brady showed up to dowse the smoldering remains of the combine.

Although the cause of the fire is under investigation, Hecox speculates that static electricity in the engine fan threw hot embers into the engine compartment, creating residue that smoldered against hydraulic lines.

He added that the Hecoxes have experienced various problems in preparing the land, on which the combine burned, for planting. Equipment has broken down and tractors have gotten stuck, Hecox said.

“So I was suspicious being out there on Halloween night,” he said.

Hecox was also a little leery about stepping into a new combine the day after Halloween.

Because the destroyed equipment was insured, the insurance company provided a replacement combine by the next morning.

“It was definitely a little eerie,” Hecox said. “It took a good day of running to get comfortable.”

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