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Fire reported at NFM mulching site unrelated to operations

February 19, 2020
By CHUCK BALLARO ( , North Fort Myers Neighbor

A fire reported at a local mulching company last week was kept under control with the North Fort Myers business saying it expected to reopen by today.

MW Horticulture reports the fire that started last Wednesday afternoon in a hardwood log pile on the north side of the yard, sending smoke across I-75, was not related to operations.

Denise Houghtaling, of MW Horticulture, released a statement the day the fire was reported, saying the blaze was suspicious, and not caused by decomposition or combustion, and that it was not threatening any neighbors or other property.

She provided similar updates on Saturday and Monday, also offering a 25 percent discount to North customers who had to travel to the South yard for material.

Houghtaling said MW Horticulture would remain on the scene working with the Bayshore Fire Department, which responded to the call, and Division of Forestry until the fire was out.

They expected to re-open Tuesday.

Houghtaling also said on the Facebook account that any smoke seen over the weekend was not coming from the recycling facility.

"We want to re-affirm that it is NOT the mulch that was on fire. This is an isolated case and its been treated/investigated as such. ALSO, the smoke from yesterday was NOT coming from our North Yard. The smoke was coming from a illegal burn near Babcock Ranch," the post states.

MW was initially asked not to cover the fire with soil, which Houghtaling said is the typical way to get a fire out.

On Friday, the Bayshore Fire Department performed that function, as the fire had become less of a danger, according to Capt. Brunson.

MW Horticulture, which opened its North Fort Myers location in 2015, has faced some issues in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in 2017.

A hearing examiner ordered MW Horticulture to clean up the debris left from Irma, which they had been contracted to take, and which had been a source of fires.

Houghtaling said at the time that if the county had allowed them to grind the debris as planned, those fires would not have occurred.



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