Early Tuesday morning an old mulch pile at Sentinel Industries self ignited bringing out multiple Fire Departments to help get it under control.
Calico Rock, assisted by Pineville and Ruthie Mountain Fire Departments, responded to the early morning call about a fire coming from Sentinel. Upon arrival it was established that the fire was caused by the combustion of an old mulch pile. Spontaneous mulch combustion can happen when heat builds up within a thick layer of mulch. If enough heat builds within that layer, it can start to smolder and cause a fire. These fires only occur in large piles and typically start deep inside the pile where the heat is concentrated.
While trying to get the fire under control it was discovered that the well at the pump had failed, therefore the departments were unable to use the hydrant to help extinguish the fire. Marty Killian brought in a dozer and two track hoes, digging a trench around the area to keep it contained so that the fire will no spread. Meanwhile members of some of the departments, most notably the Ruthie Mountain Department have been bringing the crucially needed water to the site to help keep the fire under control. While the preliminary fire has been put out there is still a fifty foot deep core that is continuing to smolder within the pile and crews have been working all week to try and douse it out.
A similar incident happened at Sentinel in the 1970’s where the pile burned for four straight weeks before it was able to be extinguished.