A VICTORIAN grain grower believes more needs to be done to make vehicles safer for farm use, after his new ute sparked three spot fires on his property.
Michael Sudholz said he was shocked after his new Ford Ranger started the fires on his property near Natimuk, in Victoria’s west, just before Christmas.
It comes after Ford announced more than 59,000 vehicles across Australia were being recalled after a defect was discovered that could lead to fire.
“We were driving through the wheat stubble and the exhaust started three spot fires – you wouldn’t expect that from a 2017 ute,” Mr Sudholz said.
“We lost 100 acres of wheat, my son burnt his arm and our header driver burnt his fingers.
“We didn’t lose any machinery though, which was lucky.”
Mr Sudholz said he bought two new Ford Rangers last year, one in March and one in June, specifically for farm use.
He said he was lucky the fire didn’t do more damage.
“It wasn’t a bad day – it wasn’t windy at all, but if it was, it could have been a real disaster,” he said.
“We were very lucky to get away with the damage we had.
“The fire went through one paddock and into another – it was heading towards Natimuk and easily could have ended up there.
“It took out 100 acres in less than 20 minutes – we had six people in the paddock and machinery worth $2 million, it could have been much worse.”
Mr Sudholz said he received an email from Ford about the recall the day after the fires.
“We had no information before that,” he said.
“It was a surprise to find out that the ute started the fire and since then, I’ve heard of two other farmers in the district having the same problem.”
Mr Sudholz said more needed to be done to make vehicles safer.
“We buy these vehicles because we need to use them in dry conditions,” he said.
“Now many more utes are being fitted with new exhausts, so we could have a problem with other makes of vehicles.
“The government needs to look at these things – we need to be able to operate our vehicles in dry conditions.
“I’d never had a fire start from a diesel ute in my life.”
Ford Rangers sold between July 12, 2016 and December 7, 2017 are affected by the recall.
The recall was made because of a defect that can cause vegetation to become stuck under the vehicle near the exhaust system, when it is driven over long grass.
Ford will write to owners of affected vehicles.