Mulch fire on Ridout Street

Fire crews across the city were called to numerous small compost and garden mulch fires Friday afternoon.

In total, Fire District Chief Jim Stockdale says seven alarms came in, beginning at noon hour and lasting until around 11:00 p.m.

He says these small fires, especially that many in one day, are relatively uncommon.

Stockdale says most of the fires were dealt with quickly and caused little to no damage, save for one. A fire in the ground which covered a larger area caused approximately $7,000 in damage to an underground sprinkler system.

“The humidity was very low yesterday, it was about 39% when I checked it,” Stockdale said. “Although it wasn’t overly hot, what happens in a pile of mulch or peat or compost is, as it degrades and breaks down, it generates heat. That heat can actually cause the surrounding material to ignite. It’s called spontaneous combustion.”

Stockdale says he can’t promise that similar small fires won’t happen again Saturday.

“It is predicting that the humidity will be back down to about 35% [Saturday] afternoon. Perhaps we will see it again, or maybe we won’t, although it is supposed to get warmer, which could generate even more heat.”

Saturday’s forecast calls for sunny skies, a high of 20, and low humidity.

Source: London Firefighters Called Out to Several Small Compost and Mulch Fires | (CFPL AM) AM 980