RAPID CITY, S.D. (KELO) — People can start fires, big or small, in many different ways. You can even spark flames with your potting soil.
Potted plants make a good addition to the landscaping of your home. But the potting soil in the pots can also lead to a fire in the right conditions.
“Typically, in most potting soils, home situations, it itself is not going to create a problem but what happens with the peat moss as well as any decomposing product is it generates heat and through that process the heat can build up to the point that it could create a spontaneous combustible situation,” Tim Sime, owner of Jolly Lane Greenhouse, said.
So what’s happening is people are putting cigarette butts into the soil which is making them spontaneously combust due to the peat moss.
“The moisture in the soil is what helps the materials within that does the decomposing process that generates heat,” Sime said.
With all of the rainy weather, outdoor potted plants are becoming more flammable by the minute. These fires are usually small but could cause bigger problems.
“Sometimes they’ll spread, they’ll spread up into the attic, up into the house and we’ll lose an entire structure so while it seems like a small thing to have a fire inside of potting soil sometimes they become an entire house fire, sometimes they become a wildland fire,” Monica Colby, fire and life safety specialist for the Rapid City Fire Department, said.
“Don’t be alarmed or be overly concerned about what you’re using for potting soil but using common sense and just not putting out a cigarette or some hot item whatever that might be into the soil thinking its going to extinguish with no fear of harm being done,” Sime said.
The Rapid City Fire Department Fire and Life Safety Specialist recommends that putting cigarettes in a metal container once they are cooled off is okay. Just be sure to not let those get overfull which could cause a fire of its own.