What is a Mulch Fire?


A mulch fire is a fire that starts in landscaping mulch. Mulch typically contains highly flammable plant matter such as composted plant waste, leaves, twigs and straw. Mulch is used to improve the appearance of landscaping and provide additional nutrients to plants, trees and ground cover for flower beds.


  • Mulch fires are often started by discarded cigarettes that have been cast into the landscaping outside businesses and homes instead of disposed of in a proper, fireproof container. Mulch has a tendency to dry out during warm, dry climate conditions and can be very flammable.


  • Mulch fires are especially dangerous because they normally start near buildings and may catch the entire structure on fire if they aren't extinguished immediately. Mulch fires can spread quickly and cause large amounts of destruction when they catch the walls of buildings and other plant matter on fire.


  • You can reduce the risk of mulch fires starting and minimize the amount of damage caused by mulch fires by planning ahead and knowing the risks of mulch fires. Always dispose of cigarette butts properly and provide receptacles so that others can do the same instead of discarding butts in landscaping. Water your landscaping to minimize flammability and prevent the mulch from drying out. Leave at least 18 inches between the walls of buildings and landscaping to prevent mulch fires from immediately spreading to nearby buildings and structures.


  • Water is ideal for extinguishing mulch fires. If you have a mulch fire or an area in your mulch that has begun smoking, you need to fully saturate it with water. Make sure to get all layers of mulch and the ground fully saturated. If a mulch fire is caught before it can spread, it can be put out fairly easily.

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