Mar 5, 2012 12:06 AM by Zach Thaxton

Spontaneous combustion of compost bin ignites Woodmoor house fire

A fire sparked by spontaneous combustion inside a compost bin severely damaged a home in Woodmoor early Sunday morning, displacing several members of the family of Linda Weise, the well-known founder and Executive Director of the Colorado Springs Conservatory.

The fire sparked around 6:30 a.m. Sunday on Caribou Drive, just south of State Highway 105 east of Monument.  "I started to smell smoke," said Leslie Weise, who lived in the home.  "Right at the same time, my mother came in to my room and said she smelled smoke."  The fire had begun along one of the walls of the attached garage and spread quickly.  "Just in the short period of time that I went from the kitchen back upstairs and back downstairs, the entire bottom floor had filled up with smoke, so it happened very quickly," Weise said.  She, her elderly, widowed mother, and her son safely escaped with their two dogs.  "Unfortunately, we lost a tortoise," she said.

Spontaneous combustion fires are rare, but they can happen at any time and without warning, says Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District Batalion Chief Greg Lovato.  "They can combust, they can develop chemical heat, and they can, unfortunately, result in a fire," Lovato said.  Weise says she had no idea such a thing could happen.  There were compost bins both inside and outside of her garage.

"People need to be aware that this can happen," Weise said, "and as good as composting is, you should not have a composting bin inside your house, your garage, or even adjacent to your house."

Weise says family members will be displaced for up to six months.  They lost vehicles, clothing, furniture, and heirlooms in the blaze.  Linda Weise says anyone wishing to help the family can contact the Colorado Springs Conservatory at (719) 577-4556.


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