GREGORY –  San Patricio County cotton farmers had another issue to deal with last week as the harvest winds down for the year.

Last Thursday, the same day two suspects were arrested for slicing open cotton modules near Taft, a fire broke out  north of Gregory at a cotton staging area destroying 320 bales.

Fire crews from Taft, Gregory, Portland, Rockport, Fulton, Ingleside, Bayside and Sinton worked feverishly to extinguish the fire as farmers attempted to move as many bales as they could away from the blaze.

County precinct equipment arrived to create a cut line to allow the bales to burn out. Several cotton module trucks were moving other bales away from the secured location.

“Fire Marshal Steven Loving was there, along with several fire chiefs, and what he said was it had to do with them getting too hot,” San Patricio County Sheriff Oscar Rivera said.

“I didn’t realize that they did temperature checks on those things to make sure they don’t get too hot and it’s actually a process they go through to make sure everything is OK.

“They were moving them as fast as they could to get them separated,” Rivera added of the fire crew’s efforts.

The 320 bales were called a complete loss and the fire marshal said he doesn’t suspect foul play.