Mulch fire cause under investigation

Mulch fire cause under investigation
Picture of the mulch fire from February 28

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A mulch fire is sending smoke high over South Memphis.

Shelby County Health Department said residents that live within a mile of the fire should avoid exerting themselves outdoors.

The fire started smoldering Sunday afternoon at Michael's Tree loader Services near the intersection of Knight Arnold and Getwell Road.

The owner of the business said the fire is suspicious, because it started in their brush and log pile--not in the mulch pile. He said Memphis Fire Department is investigating the cause.

We have been at this location since 2011 and have not had a fire before.  The fire started in our brush and log pile, not in a mulch pile.  Investigators have not determined the cause of the fire, however brush and logs do not spontaneously catch fire normally.  The cause is under investigation by MFD.  If you wouldn't mind letting everyone know that we appreciate the outpouring of support and concern and that we are completely open for business except for vegetative debris disposal, which should open tomorrow.  Any customers can contact our office at 901-331-8205 with any questions.

The slow burning mulch kept Memphis firefighters busy around the clock, but they said the flames are not threatening any nearby homes or businesses.

"The smell was really the main problem," neighbor Pam Walker said. "It was just a huge plume of black dark smoke."

Neighbors like Walker who live around Getwell and Knight Arnold roads have been forced to deal with the side effects of the massive mulch fire since the weekend.

"I really didn't know what was going on," resident Larry Hendrix said.

Westbound lanes on Knight Arnold Road are closed between Lamar Avenue and Getwell Road. Drivers are using the turn lane to pass.

The rain that fell Monday morning may not provide much relief. As firefighters demonstrated in April when a mulch fire near Summer Avenue raged for days, a soaking on top of the mulch pile may not reach the smoldering level underneath.

Fortunately, no air quality alerts have been issued for the area, though nearby residents have complained of the smell.

"The smell, it gets all through the house and it gets through the vents," Walker said.

"You never know how it may be. You have some older people here and it may effect them differently," Hendrix said. "I think it's something they need to get taken care of as soon as possible."

SCHD released the following statement Monday morning:

"The Shelby County Health Department is aware of the current mulch fire and are keeping a close eye on the situation via our Marion, Arkansas air quality monitor. For those who live within 1/2 mile to 1 mile of the fire, we advise them to limit their outdoor exertion. Because the smoke can get into HVAC systems, some may smell it indoors."

Copyright 2017 WMC Action News 5. All rights reserved.