Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

September 10, 2013

Saving the farm: Fighting fire ‘just another day’ for veteran

RAY CITY —  Dorsey Farms has been a family-owned farm for three generations. They produce “top-quality Georgia pecans, American Welfare Approved and American Grass-fed Approved pasture-raised beef and pork, and a few vegetables for our neighbors!”

Tim Martin, 54, has been a friend of 12-year-old Conner West’s family for a long time. He is an influential figure in Conner’s life, and describes himself as her uncle. Conner’s father, Jamie West, has provided electrical and plumbing work for Dorsey Farms.

Late last month, Friday, Aug. 30, Martin and Conner were driving south on the Ray City Highway, headed to Ray’s Mill Pond Cafe, when Conner noticed flames and smoke rising from a shelter that housed a grain dryer located on Dorsey Farms. She noticed the flames and insisted that Martin stop to help. Martin, noticing neither the flames nor the smoke, insisted that it was probably nothing. He was then pressured again by Conner to stop, so he did.

Once he turned onto the dirt road that led to the shelter, he noticed the smoke. Martin tried calling 911 on his cell phone, but he did not get through. He then called Jamie West, and was instructed on how to turn off all of the electric breakers, and the gas valves.

Martin is retired from the Air Force, and he works in the engineering and technical services at Moody Air Force Base. He said, “The military trained me to think ahead.”

When Martin entered the shelter, he noticed a fire that was in its beginning stages, but it also had “pretty good flames.” Martin was able to turn off the electric breakers, and shut off the propane supply to the grain dryer. Once the propane supply was cut off, Martin said

 that the fire was practically out other than a tarp that had caught fire, and he found a shovel nearby then shoveled dirt onto it and extinguished the flames.

The shelter also housed two large tractors, one of which was a loaner, an industrial sprayer with an estimated price tag of $100,000, a 10,000-gallon diesel tank, and a large propane tank. Located near the shelter is the building where Dorsey Farms processes its online orders; this building contains more than $10,000 in products.

Dee Shiver, part owner of Dorsey Farms, said that if the fire had reached either the propane or diesel tanks, they would have lost everything in and near the shelter.

When asked about his efforts, Martin said that he knew the fire was in its developing stages, and if he had felt in danger, he would have taken different precautions; he knew that he was not in danger. After the fire was extinguished, the Ray City Fire Department and Dorsey Farms owner Jeff Dorsey arrived on the scene. Martin also said that he did what anyone else would have done, and that it was “just another day.”

Knowing that the situation was under control, Martin and Conner went to dinner as planned. The restaurant received a phone call from Jeff Dorsey instructing them that he would pay for Martin and Conner’s meal. The owners at Dorsey Farms wanted to thank both Tim Martin and Conner West for the extraordinary actions that saved their farm.

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