Hay bales have been burning since May 28 in southwest Kansas

Crews in southwest Kansas were trying this week to salvage at least some hay from a fire that has burned thousands of bales so far.

About 51,000 bales owned by Abengoa Bioenergy and Cattle Empire have been burning since May 28 near Moscow in Stevens County.

Fire Chief Darroll Munson told the Garden City Telegram that nearly 18,000 additional hay bales may be saved. Munson said Monday that crews made progress on the blaze over the weekend and expected to have the entire fire extinguished in the coming days.

Heavy equipment was brought in over the weekend to tear down the bigger stacks of bales in an effort to subdue the fire. Munson said firefighters initially worked 12-hour shift and then began going out in small teams to spot check the blaze every hour.

Munson said many homes in Moscow suffered smoke damage . .

“It could be worse,” Munson said. “We are very thankful that no one was injured and that there was no loss of homes or equipment.”

A preliminary report indicated that the fire was caused by lightning but Munson said those reports had not been confirmed.