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Wilson man burns hands in tractor fire

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A Wilson man suffered burns on both hands when the tractor he was driving caught fire Tuesday morning.

Chad Bundy of Precision Lawn Care and Landscaping was with a crew mowing the shoulder of U.S. 117 Alternate when the Ford 6640 tractor he was driving caught fire.

The incident happened around 10 a.m. across from the Wilson County Solid Waste and Recycling Center Site 2 between Black Creek and Wilson.

According to Jeff Collier, assistant chief of the Black Creek Volunteer Fire Department, the fire started near the battery, sparking flames that swept up and around the tractor’s steering wheel.

Bundy had been headed toward Wilson moving on the right shoulder when the flames started.

“He got off the tractor then chased it down trying to shut it off,” Collier said.

Collier said the flames burned through hydraulic lines, making the fire slightly worse.

“That’s when he burned his hands,” Collier said.

Wilson County EMS took Bundy to Wilson Medical Center for treatment.

It took firefighters less than five minutes to extinguish the flames.

When Bundy jumped off the tractor, the machine started a gradual turn off the road and into a tobacco field where parts of several rows of tobacco were mowed down. The tractor drove itself about 150 feet off the road before its wheels became mired in the dirt.

“That’s what stopped it,” Collier said. “It was still in gear it got stuck and choked itself off.”

The steering wheel and the seat where Bundy had been sitting were badly charred.

“The biggest part is the man got burned,” Collier said.

Farmer Glen Pittman said parts of eight rows of tobacco were destroyed when the mower rolled through. More of the crop was damaged when the machine was pulled out of the field.

Travis Fleming of Wilson, a member of the Precision Lawn Care crew, said Bundy had received third-degree burns on his hands.

Deputy Cody Finch of the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office investigated the incident.