Just after midnight, Monday Needham FIrefighters responded to multiple 911 calls in reference to a mulch fire at the Texas Timber Resources Mulch operation at SH 242 and the San Jacinto River. They arrived on the scene to find on large pile reported to be about 2-stories high with heavy fire. A deck gun was used immediately to knock some of the fire down. Additional trucks from Caney Creek, Needham, and South Montgomery County were requested. A ladder truck was set up on one side of the fire and water supply was established with multiple tankers. This is not the first fire at the location. Over the years fires have broken out several times. Mulch that is piled too deeply, more than a few inches, can build up heat and spontaneously catch fire. Factors such as below-average rainfall, dry conditions, warm temperatures, and high winds increase the risk of mulch fires. Years ago multiple departments spent full days fighting the blazes. However, the owner stepped up and purchased a tank truck, and if a small fire erupts they control it themselves. In addition, full crews are available if a fire does break out. As units fought the blaze this morning the owner called in heavy equipment operators and within 30-minutes workers were on the pile with heavy equipment breaking the piles and rolling it. Within 90-minutes the blaze was declared under control. Just like the large pile of mulch overnight a homeowner’s bedding can catch fire also in hot and dry conditions. Mulch and wood chips are wood products that are continually decomposing, generating high temperatures. Because of this, a large enough pile of mulch or chips can create sufficient heat to spontaneously combust. The location of mulch and wood chip piles can likewise pose a hazard.

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