Firefighters work to extinguish smoldering mulch

SAUGET, IL - A large mulch fire in the Metro East is still smoldering Tuesday morning, several hours after it started. Firefighters believe they have the upper hand.

The mulch fire has been burning at Oldcastle Lawn and Garden since Tuesday morning. The chief of the Sauget fire department, Roger Thornton, says his crews cleared the scene at about 4am to get some rest. They will be back later Tuesday.

Chief Thornton tells FOX 2 that crews first got the call for the mulch fire here about 11:30am Monday. Firefighters from Sauget as well as ten other departments battled the smoky fire for more than 16 hours. The owners are continuing to fight the smoldering fire with a backhoe.

The fire started from spontaneous combustion. The mulch gets hot from the conditions outside, then once oxygen hits it, fire can start. The situation was made worse by the winds Monday into last night. A breeze continues this morning.

Around 20,000 yards of mulch have burned.  Chief Thornton believes the fire is contained and will not spread. Crews have separated the piles of mulch that are burning from everything else. No buildings or equipment have been damaged and no injuries have been reported.