11/16/13 5:18pm
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.

09/18/13 12:11pm
09/18/2013 12:11 PM

About 100 fire department volunteers from six different departments were called out to extinguish an early morning mulch blaze by the intersection of Horton Avenue and Osborne Avenue in Riverhead, according to Riverhead fire officials.

Upon arrival to the 6 a.m. alarm, officials “immediately” called for mutual aid, said spokesman Bill Sanok.

The mulch fire covered an “extensive area,” consisting of several mulch piles between 18 and 20 feet high, Mr. Sanok said.

“In the mulch process, the internal heat can cause the material to spontaneously combust, and because the piles were so large there was tremendous heat,” he said.

The compost piles were made up of wood chippings, leaves and grass clippings, and piles needed to be broken apart to get at the base of the heat, Mr. Sanok said.

“They hooked up to hydrants and some of the departments brought their [water] tankers in,” he said.

It took about two hours to extinguish, ending about 8:30 a.m., officials said.

Volunteers from Riverhead, Manorville, Eastport, Westhampton, Flanders and Jamesport departments arrived at the scene, while East Quogue volunteers waited on stand-by at the Riverhead Fire Department.

No one was hurt in the blaze.

cmiller@timesreview.com

08/13/11 9:57am
08/13/2011 9:57 AM

Six Riverhead firefighters, a fire chief and a tanker truck came to  the aid of the Eastport Fire Department at an Eastport mulch fire early Saturday morning.

The fire is at a mulch and recycling facility on Speonk-Riverhead Road, south of Sunrise Highway.  Riverhead Fire Chief Nick Luparella said Saturday morning that his department got the call just after 6 a.m.

Riverhead  firefighters and teams from seven other departments were still battling the fire at 9:30 a.m. Saturday.  “They’re working with bucket loaders to break up the piles of mulch now,” Chief Luparella said.

Mulch piles can smolder and ignite as plant material decomposes, a process that creates heat. The piles must be frequently turned and mixed to prevent hot spots from igniting.

Chief Luparella said that he believed the fire had been contained within the site where it started and did not threaten the surrounding pine barrens. “There’s no concern of it spreading anywhere,” he said.