MILAN, Minn. (WCCO) — A Minnesota farmer had to make a quick exit after a fire took over his cab while he was harvesting corn.

Bergen Johnson of Milan was running his combine and was almost done for the day when the front part of the combine caught fire. The pictures show just how badly the flames damaged the machinery.

John Lauritsen shows us how Bergen was able to escape and who he’s thanking for helping to save his crop.

“Perfect conditions for things to get out of control pretty quick,” Johnson said.

Johnson wasn’t thinking about the hot, dry 90-degree October weather. He was thinking about finishing up for the day so he could celebrate his birthday. But his plans changed in an instant.

“The tires caught on fire and I knew if they got going too bad then I wouldn’t be able to exit,” Johnson said.

The front of his combine had caught fire, and it was spreading quickly. He backed the combine away from his crop before 15 acres could catch on fire.

“Tried to get the fire extinguisher off but it was too close to the flames,” he said.

Quite often, the entire family rides with Bergen when he’s harvesting corn. Luckily on Sunday, he was the only one in the cab. That includes his wife, Bess, and their two sons.

“Yesterday was one of the first days in the last few weeks that we weren’t in there as a family,” Bess said.

“I kind of had to walk swiftly through the flames a little bit and take a leap of faith,” Bergen said.

By then, the fire was taking over. The Milan Fire Department, made up of mostly other farmers themselves, helped get the fire under control.

“They were giving me heck that I had to get them off the combine to help me with my combine,” Bergen said.

“Oh gosh, scary. Yeah I’m glad we weren’t in there,” Bess said.

In addition to thanking the Milan Fire Department, Bergen also wanted to thank a neighbor who finished that part of the field for him.

John Lauritsen

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