HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) -- O'Neills Grill has reopened after a cigarette landed in mulch causing damage to the structure.
Local fire crews said cigarettes thrown into mulch is the reason so many fires have happened in a short period of time. They said the number of mulch fires we have seen within the past four weeks, is the most they have seen in years.
They said more than 95 percent of mulch fires can be prevented, if cigarettes are disposed of properly.
It was a normal day at O'Neills which quickly turned into every owners worst nightmare. Owner Tim O'Neill received a call about the business being on fire, forcing them to close their doors and lose money.
"When you put people out of work it is unbearable. It's gut-wrenching, when you don't have answers," said O'Neill.
But, this wasn't the only fire with the same cause. In four weeks, there have been five homes and businesses damaged by fires, costing about a million dollars in repairs.
Deputy Fire Marshal Mike Armstrong said you don't realize what you have, until it is too late.
"The day after the fire is when I realize, I'm going to lose my photo album of my grandfather from World War II and I can never replace that," said Armstrong.
O'Neills is now back up and running, as people hang up their pictures inside the Harrisonburg staple, ready to see a normal night.
The owner said he plans to get rid of the mulch and instead use a safer product, which will reduce the risk of fires.
Firefighters warn people about having mulch near vinyl exteriors, which can burn quickly.
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