Heartbroken Aunt Issues Urgent Warning After Nephew Dies in Tragic Mulch Fire

In a heart-wrenching series of TikTok videos, a woman shared the tragic story of her nephew’s death due to a fire caused by the spontaneous combustion of gardening mulch. The videos, posted by a user named RevivedByVashti, have been viewed over five million times and serve as a crucial warning to others about the potential dangers of mulch fires.

The Tragic Incident

RevivedByVashti recounted how the fire started in the mulch outside their home and quickly spread to the house, leading to the tragic death of her nephew Cullen. She described Cullen as having a “caretaker soul” and someone who “loved making people laugh.” His younger brother, Harvey, aged five, also suffered burns but has since returned to school.

“This is my sister and nephews, and this is our reality,” she said in one of her videos. She explained how the fire, which did not start from staining rags but was similar in nature, began in the mulch before spreading to the front porch and intensifying upon reaching a propane tank. “This might save a life,” she added, emphasizing the importance of her warning.

@revivedbyvashti #stitch with @BreeAna Lee This can save lives #staindanger #housefiresurvivor ♬ original sound – Kayla Vashti-Flips & DIY home

@revivedbyvashti Replying to @Haley ♬ original sound – Kayla Vashti-Flips & DIY home

Understanding Spontaneous Combustion of Mulch

Mulch is commonly made from organic materials such as tree bark, wood chips, pine straw, moss, grass clippings, newspaper, manure, compost, or even rubber. While spontaneous combustion of mulch is rare, it is a known phenomenon. As these organic materials break down and decompose, oxidation occurs, which generates heat. If the mulch is piled too high or compacted, the heat can build up to the point where it ignites, causing a fire.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) supports this information, stating that the heat from mulch breaking down can start a fire if there’s too much mulch or if it’s all squished together. They also advise that rags used for staining should never be left in a heap. Instead, they should be laid out flat to dry, kept away from houses, and then placed in a metal box with water and soap to prevent the oils from catching fire.

Temperature and Conditions for Mulch Fires

Mulch can catch fire when the internal temperature reaches around 200 degrees Fahrenheit (93 degrees Celsius). However, spontaneous combustion can occur at lower temperatures if the mulch is dry and tightly packed, allowing heat to build up without escaping.

Conditions that can contribute to spontaneous combustion of mulch include:

  • Hot and dry weather.
  • Freshly delivered mulch that is still decomposing.
  • Mulch that is piled too high (generally over six inches).

How to Put Out a Mulch Fire

If a mulch fire occurs, it is crucial to act quickly to prevent the fire from spreading. Here are the steps to put out a mulch fire:

  1. Call Emergency Services: Immediately call 911 to alert the fire department.
  2. Use Water: Saturate the mulch with water. Use a garden hose to soak the mulch thoroughly. Ensure that water penetrates deep into the pile to reach the source of the fire.
  3. Spread the Mulch: Use a rake or shovel to spread out the mulch. This helps to cool down the temperature and ensures that the water reaches all parts of the mulch.
  4. Monitor the Area: Even after the fire appears to be out, monitor the area for any signs of smoldering or rekindling.

Staff Writer
Staff Writer
ForEveryMom staff contributed to this article.

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