HARRISONBURG, Va.---The Harrisonburg Fire Department has seen six to 12 mulch fires so far this year.
Batallion Chief Brett Hartt said during this time of the year it is dry and windy. If someone drops lit cigarettes and matches near mulch, this can spark a fire.
On Thursday, mulch near an apartment building in the 1100 block of Devon Lane caught on fire. The flames destroyed three feet of the vinyl siding of the building.
Maurice Yates who lives in the apartment that caught on fire said he was not aware of the fire when it started.
"You would never know that your house is on fire any second," said Yates.
Hartt said these types of fires can happen easily.
"It's probably a second thought. Most people are just used to smoking and dropping their cigarette, dropping their match, they tend to just not even think about it," said Hartt.
Yates said he didn't know it could happen when neighbors dropped cigarettes in his backyard.
"It's kinda shocking that a cigarette, just the flick of a cigarette. It could've burn your whole house," said Yates.
HFD recommends neighbors to throw cigarettes in ash trays and keep a 12 to 18 inch barrier between mulch and a building.
"That way if the mulch does catch on fire is not right up against the vinyl siding, which doesn't cause the fire to burn up the side of the house," said Hartt.
Mulch fires are more likely during the spring wildfire season, which runs until April 30. However, the season could extend until June.
Hartt said he anticipates more mulch fires this spring.
"You probably will be able to catch a mulch fire everyday for the next couple weeks," said Hartt.
However, he hopes neighbor can help preventing them.
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