WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The West Springfield Fire Department was called to a fire at a Dunkin Donuts on Westfield Street.
The fire was in a mulched garden and was caused by smoking materials that were not put out properly. Spring and Summer are often popular times of the year these fires start. With the heat and dry weather, gardens are prone to combust or easily ignite from smoking materials.
Between 2016 and 2020, Mass.gov reported that there were 199 fires that started in mulch but spread to buildings. These 199 fires caused five civilian injuries, 10 fire service injuries, and an estimated dollar loss of $3.1 million.
State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey said, “Every spring, people spruce up their properties with fresh mulch and firefighters respond to many fires started by cigarettes tossed into mulch. Mulch is combustible and can easily catch fire.” He added, “We are asking smokers to dispose of their smoking materials responsibly in order to prevent fires. Don’t toss cigarette butts into mulch or a pile of dried leaves.”
Here are some safety tips to prevent mulch fires:
- “Businesses and homeowners that are sprucing up their landscaping should also provide and maintain safe receptacles for disposing of smoking materials so that people won’t start fires by tossing cigarettes into the mulch,” said State Fire Marshal Ostroskey. “Metal containers with sand are best.”
- Keep wood mulch 18 inches away from combustible exteriors of buildings such as wood or vinyl siding and decks.
- Use materials such as pea stone or crushed rock for the first 18 inches as a barrier around the foundation of the building and around gas and electrical meters.
- For businesses that store or manufacture mulch, be cautious of large piles because they can spontaneously combust in the heat. Keeping a good distance between piles is also key to prevent fire from spreading.