Roughly 250 to 300 large round bales of cotton are burning at the Southern Kansas Cotton Growers Co-op Gin near Anthony in Harper County.
Gin Manager Gary Feist said he received a call at around 2 a.m. Monday that one of the gin’s pods of cotton was on fire.
The facility has the cotton in pods for insurance purposes.
The fire is under control, he said, noting the wind conditions have been perfect.
The wind has switched, however, and is blowing toward Anthony.
“We're getting it stirred up and keeping it burning,” he said of the round bales.
The fire could take a few days to extinguish, he said, adding he and crews are monitoring the increasing wind speed.
Other pods of cotton have been moved, he said.
“We’re still ginning,” he added.
Feist said he doesn’t know what happened but suspects the fire came from the middle of one of the bales.
Like hay, cotton bales can smolder internally without anyone knowing.
One round bale is almost three finished bales worth about $350 each, Feist said. He estimated the loss at about $300,000.
Feist said last week that the Southern Kansas Cotton Growers' gins in Winfield and Anthony were poised to gin about double what the operation did last year. The Anthony location started running in mid-October.
The Southern Kansas gins are part of an uptick in the industry. Kansas farmers are poised to harvest a record 185,000 bales this year - a 161 percent jump from last year, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service. That is on about 91,000 acres, which is up 60,000 acres from 2016.