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Is Cape mulch a fire risk? County says no

Posted at 10:35 PM, Apr 06, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-06 22:35:39-04

CAPE CORAL, Fla., -- Neighbors say they are concerned the large piles of mulch that sit on the side of Veterans Memorial Parkway could pose a fire hazard. 

“It’s been there for quite awhile," said Dennis Cudney. “They should be taking care of it here eventually, you know, it’s kind of an eye sore.” 

Lee County, who is in charge of the mulch, told Fox 4 the mulch would be cleaned up by Easter weekend. But it's still around. After receiving emails that the mulch had been there for over 6 months, Fox 4 reached out again. Lee County provided this statement: 

"The mulch along Veterans Memorial Parkway is for a volunteer effort to plant trees along the corridor – Veterans Parkway plantings. The mulch is scheduled to be distributed to newly planted trees this coming Friday, April 6.  This has nothing to do with Hurricane Irma debris. Lee County DOT has had a volunteer who handles plantings along Veterans for years, and this is a continuation of those efforts." 

The mulch piles sit about six to seven feet high. Forty-five-year fire veteran, John McMahon, says that even though it's not hurricane debris, with the right mixture of heat and moisture, combustion can still happen. 

“When the temperature gets right [that's when] decomposition happens of the product [and] that oxidation creates the heat and that can start the fire," said McMahon. 

Fox 4 reached out to Cape Coral Fire Department for further explanation. A spokesperson said combustion is possible but "highly unlikely." They encourage surrounding neighbors to report any smoke or any suspicion of fire immediately to the police. 

Lee County says there is no concern of a fire hazard. They ask for neighbors patience as they work to beautify the area.