Eight local fire departments battled a mulch and brush fire off Speonk-Riverhead Road in Speonk in the early morning hours on Monday.
Eastport Fire Department officials said they responded to the scene at about 3 a.m. and found smoke and flames emerging from a 15-foot-tall mulch pile that sits a few hundred yards off the eastern side of the road at Speonk Earth Recycling, about a mile and a half north of Old Country Road. Sparks from the fire also started several spot fires in the surrounding brush.
Firefighters used a tower ladder, master stream and portable water tank to attack the main blaze, and several brush trucks patrolled the perimeter of the mulch pit to extinguish the spot fires as they ignited. The site was considered all clear by approximately 7:30 a.m.
Bud Mazura, the press officer for the Eastport Fire Department, said firefighters also called in the owners of the business, who utilized a backhoe to break up the mulch pile to allow the water to penetrate and douse the flames.
Southampton Town Fire Marshal Chris Hansen said he investigated the fire and determined that its cause was not suspicious. He added that he thinks naturally composting mulch ignited the fire.
Monday’s fire was the third to take place at Speonk Earth Recycling over the past three years. Several fire departments battled a compost fire there in July and, prior to that, in 2011.
Officials from Speonk Earth Recycling did not return calls seeking comment.
Authorities said the more than 50 firefighters from seven other fire departments, including Center Moriches, East Moriches, Manorville, Riverhead, Flanders, Westhampton Beach and Gabreski Airport, responded and remained on scene for four-and-a-half hours. The Westhampton War Memorial Ambulance company also responded, though no injuries were reported.