Tractor total loss after catching fire while plowing

Damp weather no help to Springfield farmer

Published on May 22, 2014
This Caterpillar Challenger model tractor caught fire while Springfield farmer John Newman was using it to plow a Newgreen Farms field. The Kensington fire department responded to the scene and doused the fire, but could not save the machine.

SPRINGFIELD – Cool temperatures and other weather impacts were not the worst of things as Springfield farmer John Newman prepared for spring planting this week

While he was plowing one of his NewGreen Farms Ltd. fields, Thursday afternoon, his tractor caught fire.

“I was plowing, and the bearing’s gone; that’s what’s wrong, the main bearing in the back wheel,” he speculated, as firefighters were hosing down the blackened remains of the tractor.

The tractor was a Caterpillar brand Challenger model, about nine years old with an estimated 4,500 hrs. of use, according to the owners.

The tractor has had “electronic issues” in the past, Newman said, but never a bearing problem.

Newman, 70, got off the tractor when the fire started, but had no chance to manage any recovery.

“I was going to unhook the plow. There was no time for that,” he quipped as the firefighters went about their tasks.

“Best thing you do is walk away from it,” interjected his son-in-law, John Green, who reported the fire.

Green was in another field, spreading manure, and saw the smoke.

“He was home for lunch a couple of hours ago, and everything was fine; went back to the field, and maybe a half-an-hour ago I saw the smoke, and that was her,” he recalled.

He called 911, and “they transferred me to the sources, I guess, that I needed to be talking to,” Green described.

The 70-year-old Newman did walk away, several hundred metres across his field to the access laneway, then to the highway, intending to make the emergency call from a nearby house. His son-in-law came along in his tractor, with the manure-spreader, and let him know he had already contacted the fire department.

Newman went back to the burning tractor to await the fire department, while Green waited on the shoulder of Rattenbury Road to direct them to the scene.

A pumper truck and firefighters from the Kensington Fire Department arrived, then Green followed along as well when there was no indication of additional fire vehicles or firefighters to arrive.

The fire department doused the flames, but could not save the tractor.

No one was injured in the incident. Green and Newman simply watched with resigned calm as the firefighters worked.

When asked about insurance, at that moment Green could only trust it was covered.

“It would be (insured), I guess. I think it’s insured; hope it’s insured. You don’t get those for free, “ he considered.