Could the Way Mulch is Layed Cause it to Spontaneously Combust?

Asked June 20, 2016, 11:51 AM EDT

Dear Sir/Madam, I am a member of my Homeowner's Association Board of Directors. The Association contracts a landscaping company to perform all of the landscaping and lawn care for our community. One evening in mid-April of this year an arborvitae in our neighborhood caught fire. Luckily the fire was extinguished before any homes were damaged and we have had no other tree fires since then. We are wondering if there is a possibility that the process that the landscaping company used to lay the mulch could have caused the mulch around this arborvitae to spontaneously combust and then burn the tree. We appreciate any information you can provide as we would like to prevent future tree fires. Thank you,

Anne Arundel County Maryland

1 Response

We do not believe this is scientifically possible. (Look at the list on Wikipedia of the materials that will spontaneously combust.) In addition, a green living arborvitae, like all green wood, is difficult to ignite. Perhaps the arborvitae was dead and dry? Even so, we suspect that more factors, especially human ones, could be in play.