Fire destroys logging machine

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EAST DORSET — Bruce Waite said he's not a superstitious man, but after his luck ran out on Friday the 13th he said he's not going to push it in the future.

Waite was running a feller buncher logging machine when it caught fire.

The Komatsu 430 XL, valued at about $300,000 used, was probably lost before he could even get out of the cab.

"I had just cut a tree and was backing up when I glanced out my side door and saw smoke," Waite said. "I pulled the pin on the fire suppression system and it made a poof and the smoke kind of disappeared. I grabbed a fire extinguisher and saw smoke was rolling back up. The fire was in the hydraulic compartment and it was rocking and rolling. I put the fire extinguisher to it but it just pushed it farther into the machine."

Waite said he knew at that point the machine was gone.

"I've been running one of these machines since 2007 and I've had three of these since then," Waite said. "I've been logging since 1974 and I thought I'd seen about everything."

Fire fighters from Dorset and Manchester came, but the remote location cause a significant delay in even getting to the fire.

Firefighters had to drive up a short dirt road to the landing in brush trucks and then haul water in backpacks about a mile up a skidder trail on all-terrain vehicles. Efforts to fight the fire with the backpacks was futile.

Crews were later able to spot closer to a road and ran more than 1,000 feet of hose to use foam on the fire.

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"Very pleased with the firemen's response," Waite said. "They did what they could, there was just nothing they could do."

Waite said nobody will probably ever know what happened but he said he was told that nine out of ten fires on those machines in the woods end up with a total loss of the machine.

"It was quite a disastrous thing," Waite said. "The adjuster just came out of the woods."

Waite said his machine, used, was worth more than $300,000.

He has a new machine on the way at a price tag of about $600,000.

Waite had insurance but the logging season is short and time is money in the woods.

A feller buncher is a logging machine that resembles a back hoe, but has a cutting head that fells the tree, then delivers the log where a skidder can pull it to the landing.

The same day as the fire, Waite said he had another piece of equipment suffer a catastrophic engine failure.

He joked that next time Friday the 13th rolls around he's just going to go have tacos.

Contact Darren Marcy at dmarcy@manchesterjournal.com or by cell at 802-681-6534.


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