AURORA, Ohio - Kathleen Novak is a successful Howard Hanna real estate agent, who takes pride in her Aurora home. However, this past July Fourth holiday weekend, a small fire caused damage to the outside of her house.
Novak told 5 On Your Side Troubleshooter Joe Pagonakis that she was stunned when she learned the small blaze got started after her newly-delivered landscaping mulch caught on fire.
Aurora Fire Chief David Barnes told Novak her mulch was the victim of spontaneous combustion, and that his department is called out on mulch fires a couple of times a year.
Fortunately, Kathleen's husband was home when the fire got started, and he quickly extinguished the blaze, preventing it from spreading into a garage wall.
Chief Barnes said mulch fires can create a devastating blaze, if not caught early, and are caused when organic material reaches a high temperature and starts combustion when it is suddenly exposed to air. That's why mulch fires are most common right after mulch is delivered to a home.
Chief Barnes said homeowners should inspect their mulch delivery carefully. If they see a smoldering "hot spot," it should be hosed down and cooled with water.
It's also important that mulch isn't applied too heavily. Mulch that is put on in thick piles, is more susceptible to spontaneous combustion.
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