MOTTVILLE, Mich. — A fire that raged in Mottville for five days was finally extinguished on Friday. 

The White Pigeon Township Fire Department made the announcement on its Facebook page Saturday afternoon, stating that all fire crews and equipment had vacated the site of the fire, Michiana Decorative Mulch, around 10 p.m. on Friday evening. 

No other details were available and calls to the deparment went unanswered on Monday. 

Michiana Decorative Mulch, located in the 69000 block of M-103, just north of Bristol, sustained heavy damage with at least one building destroyed by the fire. The fire started during the afternoon of Monday, June 26. A column of smoke rising from the facility could be seen nearly 20 miles away in Granger. 

At times fire crews had to battle high winds as they worked to keep the fire contained to 15 acres at the 38-acre site. There is still no word on what sparked the fire, although last week White Pigeon Assistant Fire Chief Tyler Royce said that the department had a number of theories. 

As the week progressed fewer fire crews were needed as officials waited for the fire to burn itself out. At one point 20 different departments and close to 100 personnel were out at the site. Royce had mentioned that the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, along with two or three other local excavating companies, brought bulldozers and heavy equipment to the site in an effort to help the firefighters control the fire. 

Doug Kuhlman, a zoning official with Mottville Township, said local government officials had been worried about the chances of a fire happening at the facility since Elkhart-based Green Stream purchased the site in December. Kuhlman said Green Stream had been using the site for different purposes than the previous owners.

"They had begun recycling cardboard and Styrofoam at the site, as well as the wood products," said Kuhlman last week. "The amount of material they were taking in was astronomical and I think it was more than they could process, creating large stockpiles, which was extremely concerning."

Kuhlman said a fire at the location was the township's biggest concern and that officials had been working to make sure the site had proper fire lanes to prevent the spread of a fire if one should happen and a water system of its own to help extinguish a fire if one occurred.

Due to the lack of a proper water system to help extinguish the flames fire department tanker trucks were moving in and out to four different locations — White Pigeon, Bristol, site neighbor Banks Hardwoods and the St. Joseph River in Mottville — to fill up with water.


Kevin Kretsch spent a few days last week making sure that firefighters battling the blaze had the items they needed to remain hydrated, fed and prepped for anything. He contacted a number of local businesses, which were able to donate supplies to firefighters at the Michiana Decorative Mulch fire. 

The donated items included: 

• 60 hamburgers and fries from McDonalds, located at 2808 N. Cassopolis

• 20 cases of Gatorade, socks, towels, cases of pop and 15 lawn chairs from the Walmart in Three Rivers

• Three boxes of donuts from Bullseye Market in Three Rivers

Kretsch, a former firefighter with the Osolo Township Fire Department, said that it was a spur of the moment decision to call a number of the businesses and ask for supplies. 

"I knew what they were going through and I just wanted to do my part," he said. 

Follow Ben Quiggle on Twitter @BenQuiggle

(2) comments


People buy this exceedingly flammable decorative mulch and put it around their houses??


After responding to 10s of 1000s of calls in my 38 year career, I can't remember responding to a mulch fire around a house. Don't take my statement wrong. It certainly could happen. A cigarette or match flipped in the mulch if dry is a problem. Hey I have seen homes with straw bales around the foundation. We are our own worst enemy. But I kind of think the mulch fires like @ Mottville and US 33 Elkhart probably started from spontaneous combustion. How about those that use pine needle mulch? Talk about combustive! One of the main reasons for mulch use is to keep the ground under it moist. Keep the mulch wet!

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