Riverhead responds to Eastport mulch fire

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.