August 23, 2013 10:01:15 AM
WINDSOR, Vt. -- A pile of goat manure spontaneously caught fire, spreading stench and wrinkling noses through a Vermont town but causing no damage, officials said.
The odor evoked "a damp kind of burning leaves or brush fire," Windsor Town Manager Tom Marsh said.
A worker on her way to milk goats discovered the fire in the 120-cubic-yard manure pile around 3 a.m. Wednesday, said George Redick, owner of the 800-goat Oak Knoll Dairy. He and others put out the flames with water from a hose but the pile continued to smolder. He planned to call the fire department later in the morning, but firefighters were already searching for the source of the smell by 6:30 a.m.
Marsh said he could smell the fire at his hilltop home five miles away. He called it "a little disconcerting, because it was a very strong smell."
Redick says the manure would typically have been spread around the farm earlier in the year, but the rainy season and other factors kept that from happening.
He said he used to think spontaneous combustion was make-believe.
"Now I'm a believer," he said.