Crews battle large fire after mulch pile spontaneously combusts - KCTV5

Crews battle large fire after mulch pile spontaneously combusts

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The Vice President of Suburban Lawn and Garden says mulch has to get between 170 and 200 degrees to combust. (KCTV5) The Vice President of Suburban Lawn and Garden says mulch has to get between 170 and 200 degrees to combust. (KCTV5)
Authorities have closed Kansas Avenue from 62nd Street to 65th Street while they battle the blaze. (KCTV5) Authorities have closed Kansas Avenue from 62nd Street to 65th Street while they battle the blaze. (KCTV5)
The fire started near 65th Street and Kansas Avenue. (KCTV5) The fire started near 65th Street and Kansas Avenue. (KCTV5)
The fire started near 65th Street and Kansas Avenue. (KCTV5) The fire started near 65th Street and Kansas Avenue. (KCTV5)
KANSAS CITY, KS (KCTV) -

Emergency crews battled a large fire for nearly five hours after a pile of mulch spontaneously combust early Monday morning.

The fire started about 2:45 a.m. at C. S. Carey, a land clearing, tree grinding and wholesale mulch business near 65th Street and Kansas Avenue.

Flames lit up the side of Kansas Avenue avenue at 65th Street for most of the morning as firefighters worked to contain the fire. 

An employee of the business says the fire is mostly contained. He says no employees were hurt and no equipment was damaged.

The employee believes the fire was started by spontaneous combustion. This can happen when cold air enters a mulch pile and begins to warm. The pile holds more moisture than the air. Cold air can transfer large amounts of heat-laden water vapor inside mulch and compost piles, sparking a flame. Fire investigators have not confirmed the belief.

"It occurs overtime as the mulch is stockpiled, it usually takes 2 to 3 months before mulch can get to a point where it's going to get hot enough to catch on fire," The employee said.

Matt Stueck, the Vice President of Suburban Lawn and Garden says mulch has to get between 170 and 200 degrees to combust.

"You can feel that, feel how warm that is, that's hot. That's 120 degrees and that's very typical of what mulch can get like inside the pile," Stueck said.

He says when mulch piles reach higher than 25 feet tall, their internal temperatures can rise quickly, and at this point in the year, many businesses have more mulch than normal.

"This is busiest time of the year for all mulch producers because its the beginning of the mulch season for jobs," Stueck said.

And for homeowners wanting to buy mulch, he says this is not something to worry about.

"A mulch fire is scary for someone making mulch, but its not at all a threat for someone who has mulch at their home," Stueck said.

Stueck says the benefits of mulch outweigh any risks. he says just break up your old mulch before laying down a new layer in the Spring. 

Authorities closed Kansas Avenue from 62nd Street to 65th Street while they battled the blaze. The street has reopened.

Fire officials say no homes were affected by the fire.

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