Charlottetown firefighters respond to 4 mulch fires in 2 days

Charlottetown fire department has seen a rise in mulch fires this week. On Thursday, the fire department responded to three fires. Since the beginning of the year, there have been eight mulch fires.

Causes of the fires unknown

Over the past five years, the Charlottetown fire department has responded to about 12 mulch fires a year. (Joe McDonald/CBC)

The Charlottetown fire department responded to four calls about mulch fires over the last two days.

On Thursday, the department put out three mulch fires in separate areas in Charlottetown, said Deputy Chief Tim Mamye. Fire crews were also called to another mulch fire early Friday morning, he said.

Mayme said the causes of the fires are unknown. 

"It is hard to predict," said Mamye, adding that the recent rise in temperatures and humidity are added risk factors for mulch fires but a source of ignition is needed.

"Many times it comes from discarded smoking materials," Mamye said. 

Over the past five years, the department has responded to about 12 mulch fires a year, including fires that destroyed a Charlottetown apartment building and the North Winds Inn in Brackley Beach, P.E.I., last summer. 

This year there have been eight already, he said.

Why mulch? 

Mulch is a commonly used gardening tool. It is used to insulate soil and act as a buffer for hot and cold temperatures. Those with gardens and flower beds can use mulch for pest control, weed control and landscaping. 

Both the city's fire department and the provincial fire marshal said properly disposing of smoking material, like matches or cigarettes, is crucial to preventing mulch fires. 

How to prevent mulch fires? 

Provincial Fire Marshal Dave Rossiter issued a news release earlier this week to raise awareness about mulch fire prevention.

The statement advises Islanders to take the following precautions: 

  • Keep mulch 45 centimetres from buildings.
  • If possible keep combustible mulch layers out of the sun.
  • Regularly wet down mulch to keep it moist. 
  • Ensure that smoking materials such as cigarettes are properly disposed of. 
  • Consider alternatives to mulch such as crushed rock, brick, or pea gravel.

Even with the release, Mamye said he was unsure Islanders have enough awareness of the dangers mulch fires can bring.

"I hope people are enjoying weather, but if there is any smoking material out there, please discard of it properly and be mindful of everybody and everything."

More from CBC P.E.I. 

With files from Tony Davis