The Campbell River Fire Department tweeted this photo of a mulch fire on Midport Road, in an industrial area in North Campbell River on Monday.

Pile of wood mulch ‘spontaneously combusts’ at Vancouver Island industrial site

Business owner thanks fire department for quick response

Spontaneous combustion caused a large pile of wood mulch to catch fire at an industrial site in Campbell River on Monday, says local fire chief Thomas Doherty.

He says the phenomenon is not uncommon when heaps of damp wood chips or mulch are involved, due to water heating up inside the pile.

“Over time, as the temperature changes, they will start to heat up inside the pile and basically spontaneously combust,” he said. “The pile will start to burn deep inside.”

Firefighters were dispatched on Monday afternoon after someone reported flames rising from the pile.

Crews attended the scene with a fire engine and tower truck, which they used to get “deep water penetration into the pile,” Doherty said.

Firefighters estimated the burning pile was roughly 50 feet high and 100 feet wide, he said.

The business itself used heavy machinery to take apart the pile and used a hose to continue putting out the fire once firefighters got it under control, he said.

READ MORE: Shrapnel narrowly missed firefighters in ‘suspicious’ house fire

READ MORE: Firefighters reunite small dog with child after quelling blaze

John Ellis, owner of Courtenay-based Pacific Wood Waste, thanked firefighters for their quick attention to the incident.

“They were a tremendous help,” he said. “It’s situations like this that you realize that they’re such an asset to have.”

He said the woody composting material is used for fuel at pulp mills and landscaping.

On Tuesday morning, ashy debris was visible in a pile of bark mulch at the site. Steam rose from the wet pile, and a worker said he used an excavator to remove the top of the mulch and ensure water entered the heap.

An image from Google Maps shows the approximate location of a chip fire that took place in an industrial area of North Campbell River on Aug. 19, 2019.  

Doherty said there was no risk to the public or any structures in the area, noting that a good fire break surrounded the pile, though he added that spot fires could result if the weather was hotter and more embers were coming off the pile.

He said the fire department has encountered the issue of spontaneous combustion of wood debris before.

“We had a few calls out there this year already for that same pile, and every year we have the same thing,” he said, adding that similar issues crop up at another yard waste facility in Campbell River.

A pile of wood mulch ‘spontaneously combusted’ in North Campbell River on Aug. 19, 2019, according to the Campbell River Fire Department. A worker is shown at the scene on Aug. 20. Photo by David Gordon Koch/Campbell River Mirror

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Nanaimo RCMP officer ‘walks on water’ to rescue lost camper

66-year-old assisted earlier this month by Mounties who can seemingly work miracles

UVic student killed in bus crash remembered as passionate, kind

Emma Machado, 18, killed in bus crash near Bamfield on Friday

Extinction Rebellion sets up ‘gallows’ protest as climate concern sweeps Vancouver Island

Protest groups launching campaign against ‘climate emergency denial’

How to bike from Victoria to Vancouver

Massey Tunnel bike shuttle a must to avoid a horrifying tunnel ride

Editorial: Election fever lacking in Canada

Unlike our U.S. counterparts, things are low key so close to voting day

VIDEO: Prosecutors to consider charges in human-caused 2017 B.C. wildfire

RCMP forwards results of its investigation into Elephant Hill fire to Crown counsel

Bear killed in Kimberley after chasing girl, wreaking havoc on town

This particular brown-coloured bear has been the subject of many calls this summer; very food habituated, CO says

Cross-cultural flamenco production tells personal story through dance, music

Indian, Spanish influences seen in Nritya, coming Sept. 26 to Glenlyon Norfolk School theatre

ALLAN REID: Paul’s undergoes a culinary face lift

The team behind Fol Epi/Agrius revamping dated motel restaurant in its seventh decade

Nanaimo Boat Show full of ideas about how to get out on the water

Show takes place Sept. 19-22 at Waterfront Suites and Marina on Stewart Avenue

Boy overdosed on illicit anti-anxiety drug found on Kelowna classroom floor, RCMP say

Noah Mills, 8, ingested a pink powdery substance off his Kelowna classroom floor

BC SPCA investigating after three dogs found shot dead in Prince George ditch

The three adult dogs appeared to be well cared for before being found with gunshot wounds, BC SPCA says

Psychiatric assessment ordered for man accused in Salmon Arm church shooting

Lawyer tells court accused was diagnosed with psychosis hours after his arrest

B.C. offers early retirement, training fund for forest workers

Communities eligible for $100,000 for permanent closures

Most Read