A Closer Look at Recent Mulch Fires

HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) -- Within the past month, discarded cigarettes have caused three mulch fires in Harrisonburg.

At about 7 p.m. Wednesday, a fire happened at the Copper Beech Townhomes. Shortly after that, a fire started at O'Neill's Grill on University Boulevard.

These two join another fire, earlier this month, at the Chestnut Ridge Apartments on Chestnut Ridge Drive.

The Harrisonburg Fire Department says mulch fires are not rare because all it takes is a spark from something like a lit cigarette.

Some areas, like the Fox Hill Townhomes on Devon Lane have stones around the apartments to prevent mulch fires.

Harrisonburg Fire Department Capt. Arthur Miller said it will take more of a attitude change by smokers to stop them from happening.

"We could engineer buildings, we could pass laws and ordinances, but the quickest thing to fix is the behavior. We've had three instances where we were very lucky at the time of day they happened because otherwise, the circumstances could have been fatal," said Miller.

Two weeks after the mulch fire at the Chestnut Ridge Apartments, repair work is still being done.

The fire at Chestnut Ridge Apartments caused about $250,000 worth of damage, the one at O'Neill's Grill caused about $5,100 worth of damage and the fire at Copper Beech Townhomes caused about $2,500 of damage.

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