Fire volunteers extinguish compost pile for third time

11/16/2013 5:18 PM |
CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | About 40 fire department volunteers responded to the scene of a mulch fire Saturday afternoon.

CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | About 40 fire department volunteers responded to the scene of a mulch fire Saturday afternoon.

Riverhead Fire Department volunteers extinguished a mulch fire on Sound Avenue for the third time in just over a week, officials said.

A 20-by-20 foot mulch pile that was more than 10 feet high at Wells Farm combusted into flames Saturday afternoon, the third time the compost has ignited “in a week and a half,” said second assistant chief Pete Jackman.

About 40 department volunteers responded to the farm, located on Sound Avenue just east of Phillips Lane about 2:30 p.m., officials said.

“In the mulch process, the internal heat can cause the material to spontaneously combust,” Riverhead spokesman Bill Sanok has said of mulch fires in the past.

Chief Jackman said adding a bit of moisture to mulching process, like today’s early morning drizzle, can cause the compost to smoke and eventually ignite.

“There is a lot of mulch in here,” Chief Jackman said. “ [The farmer] is trying to break it up and move it around.”

CARRIE MILLER PHOTO

CARRIE MILLER PHOTO  |  Firefighters extinguish the mulch fire.