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Above, a road grader pushed hay from Highway 227. (Sarah Smith / Enterprise)

Freak accident burns driver, three-mile stretch of highway

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news Park Rapids, 56470
Park Rapids Minnesota PO Box 111 56470

A Sebeka man left a three-mile trail of scorched earth when the hay wagon he was hauling caught fire Thursday afternoon, dumping burning hay along Highway 227 between Sebeka and Nimrod.

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The State Patrol said Ardell Horton, 65, was westbound on the highway three miles east of Sebeka Horton noticed the blazing bales falling off the trailer around 2 p.m.

The Patrol said Horton then turned around and headed east, presumably to head back home. A load of burning hay dropped off on a turnoff, setting trees and grass on fire.

Horton left a two-mile trail of scorched ditches, trees and pavement before driving the pickup into a field. By that time there was no hay left in the trailer and the pickup was scorched.

"The fire continued to grow and spread from the trailer into the pickup box, quickly engulfing the cab," said a news release by the State Patrol.  

Firefighters at the scene said Horton burned his hands in the accident and was taken to an area hospital by First Responders.

Sebeka firefighters were joined by DNR firefighters extinguishing burning spots along the highway.

A road grader was called in to help clear off the highway, which had to be shut down briefly.

The Patrol said a grass fire rekindled at approximately 10:40 p.m. and Sebeka firefighters returned to the scene.

The incident remains under investigation.

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