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York County Warns of Mulch Fires Hours Before Blaze at VPPSA Facility
Submitted by Gail Whittaker and John Hamilton

MulchF imageWith the onset of spring weather, thoughts turn to getting outside and working in the yard. Mulch is used in almost all landscaping projects for its aesthetics as well as its ability to conserve moisture and reduce weed growth. Along with the common sight of mulch comes a less obvious, but all too common consequence of mulch use - fire!

Some mulch fires may be due to spontaneous combustion, which typically happens when mulch is piled high and allowed to remain for a long period of time. Primarily, this type of fire affects those who deal with large quantities of mulch, such as commercial mulch producers or landscaping companies. But a mulch fire can also be a concern for the consumer, most often as a result of the careless disposal of smoking materials.

York County Department of Fire and Life Safety offers these tips:
  • Recognize that when the weather is hot and there has been little or no rain for an extended period of time, mulch fires can start more readily.
  • Regularly water mulch to keep it moist.
  • If you see anything smoldering in a landscaped area adjacent to a structure, put it out if you can and report it to someone inside the building. Always call 9-1-1.
  • Designate outdoor smoking areas and provide receptacles for smoking materials at all entrances to discourage the disposal of cigarette butts in landscaping.
  • Do not discard cigarettes in mulched areas along roadways, in parking lots, plant beds, or potted plants containing mulch.
  • Consider replacing wood mulch with less combustible materials such as shells or decorative stone, especially around gas meters and next to combustible structures.
  • Provide proper clearance for electric devices and use only those approved for outdoor use.
Whether you are a home or business owner, York County Department of Fire and Life Safety encourages you to provide a minimum of 18- inches clearance between your structure and mulched landscape beds. This is the first and best step you can take to lessen the danger and potential loss caused by a mulch fire on your property.

For more information about this and other safety measures, call York County Fire and Life Safety at (757) 890-3600, Monday through Friday from 8:15 a.m. to 5 p.m.


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