‘It’s like the biggest campfire you’ve ever been to’; mulch fire lights up KC sky

A large fire at a compost and mulch business along U.S. 40 in east Kansas City lit up the early morning sky Thursday and disrupted traffic.

The fire was reported about 5 a.m. at Missouri Organic Recycling at 7700 East U.S. 40, near Interstate 435 and Interstate 70. Police closed westbound U.S. 40 in the area.

“It’s like the biggest campfire you’ve ever been to,” said Battalion 105 Chief Travis Williams of the Kansas City Fire Department. “It’s a very big mulch fire, probably expands 150 feet in radius or bigger.”

The fire was consuming not just mulch, but large logs and brush.

“If you can imagine a large campfire, times it by about 100,” he said.

The cause of the fire is not known, but the most likely cause is spontaneous combustion, Williams said.

“It generates a lot of heat when you have these these big piles of mulch,” Williams said.

Firefighters are expected to remain at the scene for most of the day Thursday battling the fire. The fire department dispatched five pumper trucks and two ladder trucks to the scene.

“We’ve been out here before in the past and it’s just a long operation, partly due to a lack of water sources,” he said.

There are only two fire hydrants nearby and they are served by the same water main.

Debris around the fire forms a wall that is helping firefighters contain the blaze.

“Our whole mission at first is just containing the fire,” Williams said. “That’s where were still at right now.”

As some of the fuel that is feeding the fire is eliminated at the front end, firefighters will attack the back side of the fire.

The fire is being fed by big logs and limbs that were to be turned into mulch.

Firefighters also worked at protecting the mulch company’s equipment and office building.

This is the second time this year firefighters have battled a blaze at the property.

The last time, firefighters had a “several day operation” extinguishing the fire. Williams said he anticipates this fire will take the same amount of time, especially because of strong winds on Thursday.

No injuries were reported.