Could mulch fires like the ones in the Flats happen again?

Conditions that fueled the fire have not improved since last weekend
Published: Jun. 23, 2022 at 11:19 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - A dramatic cluster of mulch fires on the East Bank of the Flats last weekend has been the number one trending story all week, and incredible video of the smoke and flames has gone viral.

Although the mulch fires were a first for the Flats according to bar and restaurant owners, conditions that fueled the fire have not improved since last weekend, meaning conditions are ripe for similar fires to happen around Northeast Ohio.

Cleveland Firefighters suspect someone discarded a cigarette that sparked the initial fire in the Flats, because mulch is extremely combustible, but it was also a perfect storm because the flames were fueled by strong winds that cause it to spread and extremely dry conditions. Cleveland’s last measurable rainfall in June was on the 14th, that was nine days ago.

Kevon Ferguson of Garfield Heights says he was on the East Bank when the fire broke out, “To be honest it was like a movie -- it was really like a movie. Like everything, the wind started blowing so hard that night and the fire just went from a little fire to a big fire in no time.”

Teressa Doaty says she’s thankful there was no major damage, “It’s not well known here because we don’t typically go that long without enough rain where we would encounter that. It’s not a common thing. Education is key.”

19 News even covered a house fire in Painesville where the home’s owner said it was so dry that the mulch in her flower bed caught fire, and may have been smoldering all night, and with July 4th quickly approaching, the spark from a firework could not only threaten the mulch and your lawn, but if it lands on a rooftop or deck, it could endanger the lives of your family.

Ashley Audi who lives near the Flats was shocked something like that happened here, “It was kind of scary to see something so small could cause such a fact with the fires and the wind blowing.”

Cleveland Fire says if you live in a home with mulch surrounding it, it’s a good idea during dry conditions to water it.

They also advise if you see a fire like the one in the Flats make sure you call 911 before getting out your video camera.

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