Mulch fire at Richmond business now under control

February 26, 2013 9:58:05 AM PST
A firefighting effort continues in Fort Bend County as crews are still putting out hot spots from last night's mulch fire at the Living Earth company.

The fire has been under control for some time, but the windy weather has been hampering firefighters' efforts to fully extinguish it.

Nearby residents are concerned.

"Last night it was very much, too much fire and a lot of fog, you know," said neighboring store owner Amina Amlani.

"I was driving by and I saw what used to be big piles of mulch out here up in a blaze really," said neighbor Clint Zuskin.

At about 6pm, the fire erupted on the Living Earth property on Highway 90 between Pitts Road and FM 359. At one time, 10 fire departments were battling huge flames. They say 40 to 50 mile per hour winds were feeding the fire. The other problem was bringing in water since there are no hydrants nearby.

Firefighters were able to keep the flames away from a line of trees and homes. According to authorities, no injuries have been reported.

The cause of the fire is believed to be spontaneous combustion. Organic materials like mulch can generate heat that becomes trapped; add to that windy, dry weather conditions and you have a perfect storm for a fire.

"This creates its own thermal energy and when you have low humidity and high winds you have some auto combustion or spontaneous combustion," said Richmond Fire Chief Michael Youngblood.

When the sun came up this morning there was relief as the fire was contained and none of the surrounding properties had any damage from flying embers.

"Now it's better. Seems like everything is under control there now," said Amlani. "The right kind of ending, that's right."

Five out of 14 acres were affected on the Living Earth company's property. The owner says the products destroyed add up to about a $15,000 loss.

Firefighters plan to stay on scene spraying hot spots as they continue try and keep the flames away from nearby homes and some trees.

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