Code violations impeding firefighting efforts at MW Horticulture

Published: Updated:
mulch fire MW Horticulture
Credit: Nancy Piper

Firefighters continued working to put out the fire at MW Horticulture on Monday. They enlisted help from Florida Forest Service helicopters to fight the fire from above.

Since Sunday morning, the mulch pile has been burning, and firefighters are warning the smoke will be noticeable until at least the end of the day on Monday. The fire is only 30% contained.

A spokesperson for the San Carlos Park Fire Protection & Rescue Service District said one of the issues they are dealing with is a result of various code violations at the MW Horticulture property. They said MW Horticulture mismanaged the distance between their piles, making it difficult for fire crews to get to the heart of the fire. That is why the San Carlos Park fire is asking the Florida Forest Service to bring a helicopter to help them fight the fire from the sky.

The fire department says mismanagement of a mulch pile at MW Horticulture caused the pile to combust into flames and jump Old US-41 to cause a brush fire nearby.

A spokesperson for San Carlos fire said they issued a stop-work order for MW Horticulture on April 6 because of the code violations and recent fires. The order stopped the company from taking in any new materials.

As crews keep fighting the fire, road closures are preventing people from getting to work at nearby businesses. San Carlos Park fire said they are working on using culverts to reroute fire hoses under the road. One lane of Old US-41 has been reopened.

The company has a history of fires burning out of control. Firefighters, deputies, and EMS all showed up on Monday to put out the flames, redirect traffic, and make sure no one got hurt.

Doug Maxemovich showed up at MW Horticulture for another reason. “I come down for a job interview seen the smoke from a miles away and said hope that’s not the place on fire. Come down the road and sure enough, no job interview. They got everything shut down,” said Maxemovich.

Maxemovich came for an interview at MW Horticulture only to find out it was on fire. Objectively, his situation’s a little funny, but this is no laughing matter to the San Carlos Fire Department.

“It does get frustrating when you come out, and you worked with gently to try and put things back in perspective. And then those things take off again,” said San Carlos Fire Chief David Cambareri.

Cambareri said that this time, things took off worse than usual. Of the 13 acres of mulch, nearly seven acres caught on fire. Due to MW Horticulture keeping their mulch piles too close together, Cambareri said his crews couldn’t get to 40% of the fire.

Dumping water just on top would only make for more smoke in the air, so firefighters will be at the site for up to a week, waiting for the fire to burn and watching to make sure it doesn’t spread.

Once they’re all done putting out the fire, Maxemovich said he would come back. “I will definitely come back when things calm down. Seems like, from what I have researched on them, they seem like a pretty reasonable place, responsible place,” said Maxemovich.

WINK News reached out to the co-owner of MW Horticulture for an interview, but she said her husband is still in the hospital because of smoke inhalation from this fire.

Businesses impacted by the fire

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