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

Port McNeill council debates agreement with chamber of commerce

The chamber proposed a ‘Fee for Service Agreement’ at an annual cost to the town of $5,000.

Salvation Army’s kettle campaign kicks off Nov. 21 in the North Island

The Salvation Army still needs more volunteers to help make the campaign easier to run.

New Port McNeill-Alert Bay-Sointula hybrid ferry sets sail for B.C.

Two Island Class ferries are on their way from Romania

Talks between Western Forest Products and union break down

No more negotiations imminent between United Steelworkers 1-1937 and company

Port Hardy council to apply for poverty reduction program grant funding

How should the District of Port Hardy deal with the issue of poverty?

VIDEO: ‘Climate emergency’ is Oxford’s 2019 Word of the Year

Other words on the shortlist included ‘extinction,’ ‘climate denial’ and ‘eco-anxiety’

Nanaimo man caught with more than 200,000 child porn images to be sentenced

Crown says Aaron Macrae recorded video of children on buses and at his workplace

Vancouver Island hunters may have harvested deer in area known for chronic wasting disease

Conservation officers make urgent request to public for any information

65-million-year-old triceratops makes its debut in Victoria

Dino Lab Inc. is excavating the fossilized remains of a 65-million-year-old dinosaur

B.C. widow suing health authority after ‘untreatable’ superbug killed her husband

New Public Agency Health report puts Canadian death toll at 5,400 in 2018

Changes to B.C. building code address secondary suites, energy efficiency

Housing Minister Selina Robinson says the changes will help create more affordable housing

Security guard at Kamloops music festival gets three years for sexually assaulting concertgoer

Shawn Christopher Gray walked the woman home after she became seperated from her friends, court heard

Cowichan Milk Company: from grass to glass, bottled milk right to your door

Farm stand open 6 days a week, and home delivery is available everywhere from Mill Bay to Chemainus.

Most Read