Mike Lilyea was running a combine in the early evening hours on Sept. 25 when another worker Chad Freeman, following him on a tractor. yelled for him to get off the machine because it was on fire. The two ran quickly away from the combine, which had only been delivered to them that morning, before the large piece of machinery burst into flames.
Lilyea says the machine was destroyed within just a few minutes. The intense heat caused the large tires to pop.
The combine is owned by Mike Lilyea and his father Gary of 1320 Pre-Emption Rd., Penn Yan. They had accepted delivery of the 2007 Case International Harvester earlier in the day, so they hadn’t been using it very long. Lilyea didn’t reveal the cost of the equipment but said a new combine would sell for about $450,000.
A 911 call alerted the Benton Fire Department. On arrival the machine was fully engulfed in flames to the degree the tractor could not be seen inside the ball of fire. Bellona and Dresden were called for additional water. The Dresden Haz-Mat team also responded to confine the seepage of diesel fuel. Lilyea estimated the vehicle was carrying about 250 gallons of diesel fuel at the time.
The Yates County Fire Investigation Team is conducting an investigation into the cause. Yates County Sheriff’s Deputies assisted at the scene.
Onlookers on Sunday morning stopped by the scene on the corner of Havens-Corners and Pre-Emption Road. They were amazed that no one was hurt with the extent of damage. Mike Lilyea did find his wallet in pretty good shape on the seat of the completely destroyed vehicle.