By Karen Zautyk
The pesky mulch pile in the meadows that kept the Kearny Fire Department busy last year has been slumbering all winter, kept quiet, pehaps, by blankets of snow and ice.
But last week, it appeared to be welcoming spring — in a rebirth of its annoying tendency to spontaneously combust.
On March 16, the mulch at Nature’s Choice Corp., 631 Belleville Turnpike – scene of several 2013 fires – was again aflame. A passing motorist reported the fire and the KFD answered the alarm at 12:37 p.m.
Fire Chief Steve Dyl said all Kearny units, along with North Arlington firefighters, responded to the two -alarm blaze, which was declared under control at 4:15 p.m. Dyl said the fire was prevented from spreading outside the mulch, but about an acre of mulch piles burned.
The compost, which reportedly can be prone to spontaneous combustion, has been vexing firefighters over the years, authorities said in 2013, when it ignited several times. On March 4 of last year, a mulch pile blaze turned into a brushfire, burning several acres of the meadowlands.
The KFD responded to two more fires on March 16, the first at 7:58 p.m. at the Fire Pit BBQ restaurant on the Belleville Pike at Argyle Place. Dyl said it was confined to an exhaust duct and was under control in 15 minutes.
At 8:30 p.m., there was another alarm, this one at a three-story, three-family home at 131 Brighton Ave.
Kearny crews were split between the house fire and the restaurant fire and were assisted on Brighton by Harrison and East Newark firefighters.
Dyl said the blaze had ignited in a clothes dryer on the first floor and was confined to the apartment’s utility room. It was under control in 10 minutes. There reportedly were no injuries and the building’s occupants were all allowed to return.
While the KFD was occupied at the meadows blaze, Jersey City and Harrison covered the town.
Jersey City again covered Kearny during the Brighton Ave. fire.