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Firefighters battling large mulch fire in the Metro East

CAHOKIA, IL - Firefighters battled a large mulch fire in the Metro East for much of Monday afternoon. Fox 2/News 11's Dan Gray reported from Sauget Illinois where the fire smoldered for hours. The fire was noticed before two o'clock this afternoon at the Old Castle Lawn and Garden business. Most of the burning was happening along Queeny Avenue off Route 3. The company estimates that about 20,000 yards of mulch have burned. Fire departments from Sauget and about seven other area departments have been pouring water on the smoky fire and using a bulldozer to spread sand over the burning mulch to snuff it out.

Old Castle Lawn and Garden is a large operation covering several acres but the plant manager says just the mounds of mulch along the Queeny Avenue are burning and tons mulch behind the fire have not been affected. Plant manager Jason Phillips told Dan the fire started in a small mound to the south and the mulch combusted from the heat and then was fed by the winds,” Mulch will combust after it sits for long time it will get hot create heat and the once oxygen is introduced into that hot pocket it`ll start to smolder and you get one spark and it turns into more sparks and it’ll find its way through that oxygen source and create a small flame.”

No building or equipment was damaged and no one was injured. The Sauget Fire Department and other departments may be on the scene for a few hours this evening to keep the smoldering under control. Old Castle Lawn and Garden is a large retail operation that has commercial clients with large properties.  The plant manager says the company has had smaller fires but this was the largest, although he says it will be just a small loss because of the fire.