Early morning mulch blaze covered ‘extensive area’

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.

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