CUMBERLAND COUNTY, Tenn. (WATE) — A Cumberland County farmer is calling himself blessed after escaping death Monday night. His truck burst into flames while hauling 17 bales of hay along Highway 68.

“It was quite dark and my truck seemed like it was smoking,” said Roger Hartle, owner of the truck.

Hartle got out of his vehicle to see what was going on and shortly later his Ford F-250 was engulfed in flames. 

“I just barely got out with [my] drink, my phone, checkbook and my jacket,” he said.

There was no phone service when Hartle pulled over. He said he flagged down some people and told them, “go back up the hill on 68 and get some service and call someone, please.”

But Hartle wasn’t too concerned about his truck burning up, he was more worried about what he had in tow.

“Asked the fire department, ‘Would they please just go from the rear of the truck and get the fire out and keep it from going to the hay?’ Which they obliged me and I give kudos to the fire department they did a very good job,” he said.

Fortunately, the hay made it to its destination, which is a big relief for Hartle considering how expensive the commodity has become.

“Hay is hard to find in Tennessee,” Hartle said. “It’s harder in other places like Texas and whatever else have you.”

According to Hartle, hay has doubled in price within the last two years.

“It’s hard to be a farmer this year and then with the high price of fuel, the way the economy is, everyone just puts the price on up and so it’s getting higher priced. It’s getting harder to find and you have to go further, and it cost you more to get there. All this is bad enough without your truck catching fire. But we’re really glad nobody was hurt. I wasn’t hurt and I can replace that truck one day. We saved the hay, and all the horses are real happy. It’s a good ending to a rough night,” he said.

Hartle added he’s going to find other ways to make up for the loss of his truck and plans to meet with his insurance agent to see what can be done. It is unclear what caused the fire.