City says improvements have been made since mulch fire

City says improvements have been made since 2012 massive mulch fire

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Knoxville city leaders and other agencies said they have taken steps to prevent a repeat of the massive mulch fire at Shamrock Organic Products last year. Knoxville city leaders and other agencies said they have taken steps to prevent a repeat of the massive mulch fire at Shamrock Organic Products last year.

By SAMANTHA MANNING
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - As the one year mark of the massive mulch fire that caused health and environmental concerns throughout the city approaches, Knoxville city leaders and other agencies said they've taken steps to prevent it from happening again.

Last year, the massive mulch fire at Shamrock Organic Products killed all of the wildlife in the creek because of runoff from the fire relief efforts.

Now, the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency said Third Creek is showing signs of making a full recovery.

"It raised the temperature in the creek and dropped the oxygen out and killed all the fish and bugs in the entire stretch," TWRA aquatic habitat biologist Rob Lindbom said.

TWRA showed 6 News how it uses a backpack shocker to temporarily stun the fish in order to see how many fish have since returned and the process showed new life.

"They are recolonizing they're actively spawning," Lindbom said.

But the fire triggered changes beyond Third Creek.

Shamrock Organic Products now uses a new fire detection system with a camera.

"It's able to detect flames and once it detects flames it calls 911 for it," Knoxville Fire Department spokesperson DJ Corcoran said.

The city is also enforcing new regulations on how the mulch is stored.

"The space in between the mulch piles is a minimum of 30 feet that allows access with our fire trucks to get in," Corcoran said.

The owner of Shamrock Organic Products Randy Greaves didn't want to talk on camera, but said last year, his business was the only storage option for mulch for the city after the 2011 storms causing his inventory to triple overnight.

The city now has a contract with a second vendor as a backup.

"I think we learned a lot from that," Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero said. "All of us did and we made the changes that were necessary to try and avoid this type of thing again."

The Knoxville Department of Air Quality said there were no issues with air quality despite initial concerns and said the particulate matter, which was causing all the alarm, was never in violation of the city's standards.

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