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Third mulch fire in 6 months causes concerns

Published: Apr. 11, 2016 at 9:43 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 12, 2016 at 10:12 AM CDT
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MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Despite heavy rain Monday, a mulch fire along Summer Avenue continues to burn.

There aren't any big flames, but the mulch is still smoldering and sending smoke into the air. It's the third time in six months the same mulch has caught fire.

The fire is close to Rooter Man, a business on Summer Avenue. Rooter Man's owner, Brian McGlaughlin, said ever since the facility near his business stopped selling sand and started selling mulch, things have gone downhill--or in this case, up in flames.

"Full of dirt and mulch and potholes, and we've kind of lived with that. But the fire is really getting to be a concern," McGlaughlin said.

Sunday's strong wind was in McGlaughlin's favor. It kept flames and smoke away from his business, but Monday was a different story.

"When I got here this morning, [firefighters] had the road blocked off where I could get my trucks out," McGlaughlin said.

The fire department adjusted things to help him out, but he said this is becoming too common of a problem.

Back in October, a mulch fire raged on for days, fueled by dry weather. At that time, the smoke was so thick that the National Weather Service sent out air quality alerts. Some people in the area were even evacuated from their homes.

That wasn't even the most recent fire. Another one sparked in February.

"That closest pile to their trailer, actually, was smoking, and I called the fire department," McGlaughlin said. "They came out, and they knocked it down quick. But the closer it is to the building, the more concerned I am, obviously."

He thinks the sudden increase in fires is directly tied to the recent increase in size of the mulch piles. He's seen crews there moving the mulch around, turning it over to keep it from drying out.

But when you have that much wood sitting in huge piles, all it takes is a little friction between two pieces and it's going to catch fire.

"I don't want to pile anything on to them, but I think something needs to be done about it. It's just getting out of control."

The owners of the mulch business were not available for comment. Employees said the owner was working with firefighters to help stop the fire.

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