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Code violations a smolder point for mulch fire

Officials say a stop-work notice was issued after last week's fire at MW Horticulture
Posted at 5:57 AM, Apr 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-12 08:16:33-04

SAN CARLOS PARK, Fla. — Officials with the San Carlos Park Fire Department say the fire at MW Horticulture that ignited Sunday, and which smoldered through the day Monday, could have been prevented.

"The piles are so close together they cannot extinguish the interior fires that are going on," Alexis McLellan, the Public Information Officer with San Carlos Park FD told us Monday morning.

"Our biggest concern is to ensure that we keep any type of fire embers from spreading to surrounding areas," added San Carlos Park Fire Chief David Cambareri. "Keep your house closed up and your windows shut, especially if you have any type of asthma or breathing difficulties because that smoke can aggravate it."

"What a company like this should be doing is turning those piles and following protocols for temperature testing on the interior," Cambareri said. "They should be allowing pathways between the piles for emergency fire trucks to be able to pull through and put out the fire."

McLellan says that due to the mismanagement and code violations, along with a smaller fire that broke out last week, they issued a stop-work notice for the facility last Wednesday.

This means the recycling center can no longer bring in additional material but they can continue to work and process.

SCPFD says they have responded to 23 fires at the MW Horticulture site since the year began.

"Our hope is that the business would begin to do those things they are supposed to be doing to control this and make this a safe operating business in our community," said McLellan. "Every time we respond to a fire our firefighters put their lives at risk. People mismanaging a property like this absolutely puts our firefighters at risk. Every minute that we’re out here, every bit of smoke that we inhale, every time that we climb on an apparatus, that’s a preventable danger."

We reached out to the State Department of Environmental Protection in Florida for comment as well as to MW Horticulture and have not heard back.

Crews on the scene say they plan to be on-site around the clock every day and could be there in place for the next week.