Mulch Chips Pose Fire Danger, Ignite Norman Apartment Fire

Tuesday, August 9th 2011, 6:34 pm
By: News 9

Gan Matthews, News 9

OKLAHOMA CITY - The fire last week at the Commons on Oak Tree apartments did two and a half million dollars worth in damages. Fire investigators don't know the cause of the fire, but they know the point of origin, a mulch bed near the worst burned-out building.

08/05/2011 Related Story: Mulch Bed To Blame For Norman Apartment Blaze.

Fire officials say this wasn't the first fire they've had that started in a mulch bed.

"We've had multiple fires that happened in mulch beds," says Deputy Fire chief Jim Bailey. "A lot of times they don't go ahead and ignite a structure, but sometimes they do."

Most mulch chips are wood-based, so they are combustible. The owner of the Green House in Norman has advice for her customers.

"It's a good idea in this dry weather to water it down," says Nancy Muenzler.

Alternatives to wood chips include lava rocks, river rocks, and beach pebbles, they don't burn.

Some sellers of mulch point out that wood chips don't burn by themselves. It requires some sort of spark, usually of human origin, to ignite them.