Mulch Study

RENO - "Mulches play a critical role in Nevada landscapes. they do a lot of positive things like conserve water. that's a big deal. Depress weeds, control erosion. Keep dust down. But on the other hand some of our recent fire we have found that some mulches contribute fire hazards to homes."

That's why Ed Smith from Nevada's Cooperative Extension set out to find out which mulches are more likely to contribute to that fire hazard.

Six different kinds of mulch were spread out next to the Carson Airport, they've been here since May so by this time they are nice a dried out---essentially mimicking the real world scenario here in Northern Nevada, here is what could happen in front of your home should you use one of these mulches, and fire would break out with a ten mile an hour wind. Fans were placed next to the flames to simulate wind.

These are pine needles, and shredded red wood or cedar, otherwise known as gorilla hair.

Peter Mulvihil from /North Lake Tahoe Fire says their flames run hot and fast. "Pine needles bad, no surprises there. Gorilla hair? Gorilla Hair even worse. No surprises there either."

Researchers aren't just watching the flames, with special monitoring techniques they are looking at the fire's rate of spread, height, and temperature. Special strips will loose their color as the heat rises, fire crackers buried in the mulch will go off when the heat spreads to them.

Each type of mulch will be tested a total of three times today, with fire agencies getting a good idea of what they can expect when they come on to a scene at includes mulch.....
That includes mulch that burns like this.....and one that burns like this--the hottest, fastest, highest flames of the day.

The hottest and fastest mulch burn of the day consisted of rubber made to look like red wood chips. It is often used in playgrounds. And homeowners have been known to use it as doesn't lose its color or break down.