Firefighters share tips for preventing mulch fires

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GREENWOOD, Ind. – This has been one of the wettest springs central Indiana has experienced in years. This weekend, though, you might finally be able to start some of your summer planting.

Before you do that, firefighters have a message about the dangers of mulch fires.

Greenwood resident Libby Hignite knows all too well just how devastating mulch fires can be.

“By the time I got there, my chimney had fallen over my room, busted out all the windows,” she said.

She was living at a Greenwood apartment complex last year when firefighters say the mulch caught fire then spread.

No one was injured, but she and some neighbors lost everything within a few short hours.

“One thing I really came to terms with was things can be replaced and people can’t.”

It’s an issue firefighters deal with all over the Hoosier state.

In May 2018, Carmel firefighters say they responded to nearly two dozen mulch fire calls within 48 hours.

“When it starts to dry out, we get those heavy winds, we can easily get mulch fires and they can easily spread to your house,” said Carmel Fire Spokesman Tim Griffin.

A majority of the time, Griffin says these fires can be prevented.

“The biggest thing we run into is cigarette butts. People throwing cigarette butts out onto the mulch,” Griffin explained.

As for Libby, she’s still trying to rebuild her life, but she says there were some things lost in the fire that can’t be replaced.

“It’s weird because I take a lot more pictures now because people and things don’t last forever but memories do. I definitely have a lot of good memories here,” she said.

Follow these tips to prevent mulch fires:

  • Be a responsible smoker and do not discard cigarette butts in mulch or potted plants.
  • Regularly water your plants and your lawn to keep it moist.
  • Put down less flammable mulch.
  • Add 2-3 ft of rock bed between the mulch and property.
  • If you see mulch or landscaping smoldering, call 911.

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