Bend FD tips to prevent bark mulch fires

BEND, Ore. - As the weather warms and people head outdoors to work in their yards and gardens, it's time for a seasonal reminder about bark mulch. 

Landscape mulches provide a number of benefits.  When properly used, mulch can add beauty and color to a landscape, keep weeds in check, and control dust, and enrich the soil as it decomposes.  Unfortunately, it can also pose a fire risk. 

Thousands of mulch-related fires are reported across the United States each year, particularly during warm and sunny weather. 

As the wood in mulch begins to decompose, it produces heat.  When mulch is spread in thin layers, this heat can dissipate. 

In deep mulch, the heat cannot dissipate as easily and the risk of a fire increases.  Although they start small, fires in mulch can easily spread to vegetation and structures and cause thousands of dollars in damage. 

To prevent a bark mulch fire at your business or home, Bend Fire and REscue urges you to follow these tips:

  • Use mulch made from wood that is low in volatile oils or resins or use an alternative product, such as cocoa shells.  Pine bark and shredded hardwood mulches are also good options.  Avoid wood high in oils and resins such as juniper or hemlock.   
  • Spread the mulch in thin layers so that heat can easily dissipate and keep it moist.
  • Avoid placing mulch directly against structures or near potential sources of ignition, such as decorative lights or outdoor appliances.

For more information on outdoor fire safety, contact the fire agency in your area.

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