Spring is here and that alarms area firefighters. They see an increase in mulch fires this time of year. They say there mainly caused by cigarettes being thrown into mulch.
Firefighters say mulch fires happen more than you realize. Brian Clingenpeel of Roanoke County Fire & Rescue told News 7 "I don't think the average person realizes how common they are."
Clingenpeel says it is easy for mulch to catch fire. "If you think about it, the way a lot of people start a camp fire is with twigs and grass, a little dried out stuff and that's basically what mulch is."
Roanoke County saw 20 mulch fires in 2009. In 2010, there were 34. So far this year, it has seen 5. Roanoke City saw 47 mulch fires in 2010, many of them located around Valley View Mall.
Firefighters say there are several reasons mulch fires increase during the spring. Many people lay down fresh mulch. You also have lower humidity, drier conditions, and windy days.
Roanoke County Fire & Rescue has also seen an increase in mulch fires since the state of Virginia banned smoking in restaurants. Firefighters say more people are smoking outside the restaurant and just throwing their cigarette into the mulch.
Last April, there was a mulch fire at Famous Anthony's that caused $5,000 in damage. Investigators say it was caused by someone throwing their cigarette into the mulch.
Firefighters are asking the public not to throw their cigarette into mulch or out their window while driving.