Danger at the park?

By: Ruth Baker Email
By: Ruth Baker Email

SHERMAN -- After a north Texas playground burst into flames on Monday in Arlington, fire officials blamed the fire on built up heat in the woodchips under the equipment. The freak incident now has other cities including Sherman examining the materials they use at their parks.

At Old Settlers Park, mulch is used for the ‘fall zone’, which is the area under playground equipment. But what you won't see is the moisture this mulch is holding from recent rains underneath.

That moisture combined with hot temperatures is what firefighters say can ignite a fire.

Though very similar to the wood chips in Arlington, city officials say they use a similar type of wood chip called fibar, which has been approved by the International Play Equipment Manufacture's Association.

They say many parks in Sherman use fibar chips, but they also use gravel and sand. The park director says they really don't anticipate this type of chip catching fire, but fire officials say any time you have extreme heat mixed with damp materials, there is the danger of combustion.

As of now there are no plans to replace the fibar at Sherman parks.

"We’ve used this particular brand of wood mulch for about ten years. We've never had a problem. We’ve never seen any problem with combustion," said Ben Uselton of Sherman Parks & Recreation.

Sherman firefighters say they have seen spontaneous combustion occur, usually with bales of damp hay in extreme temperatures.

They say no playgrounds in the area have ignited.


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