The Finger Lakes region is in the midst of the third-driest June since records began being kept in the 1800s. We know the lack of rain and higher temperatures can do damage to our lawns, but did you know that it can also spark mulch fires?
Mulch comes in many forms, from pine needles and grass or hay, to wood chips and shavings, to recycled, shredded rubber. All types of mulch are flammable. All it usually takes is some type of heat source. It could be a carelessly discarded smoking material or a spark from a workman's tool or spontaneous combustion.
When mulch naturally decomposes it creates heat that has nowhere to go. The mulch will start to smolder and work its way down into the pile. To prevent mulch fires, home and business owners should “turn” their mulch to release heat and keep it at least 18 inches away from a structure. If you have a good water source, keeping the mulch wet, will also prevent smoldering. Also, safely dispose of smoking material in a non-combustible container filled with water or sand.