London (change)
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20/08/2012 at 15:47

Yesterday morning about 9am my neighbours had to put out a fire that reduced my metal and plastic greenhouse to a melted heap.

The only items in the greenhouse were cuttings and a few pots of compost that had dried out with no plants in them.

Thanks to the quick actions of next door I only lost the greenhouse, neddless to say i will not be leaving pots of compost to dehydrate again!

20/08/2012 at 15:54

Sorry to hear this but could you elaborate as I have never heard of this before-how do you know that the compost was responsible?

20/08/2012 at 15:58

There was nothing else in the greenhouse, only some pots of Pelegonium cuttings and the pots of compost that had dehydrated. Nothing glass or pesticides or such, The heat from the last few days concentated on the compost must have caused this fire.

20/08/2012 at 16:01

That just doesn't sound likely -were the Fire Brigade called?-this happened at 9am on a Sunday morning?

I am not saying you are wrong but would like to know more

20/08/2012 at 16:08

No, The next door neighbours used their hose to put out the fire before it did too much damage.IMy family and I had gone out and returned when our neighbours phoned to say there had been a fire!  If i'm wrong it will remain a mystery, but this is the only logical answer to what happened. It was very hot and sunny here on saturday and also yesterday.

20/08/2012 at 16:16

But this happened on a Sunday morning-I think you may have made a huge assumption here-my first thought would be vandalism


20/08/2012 at 16:23

No,  Why is it so impossible that a fire can happen on a sunday morning ? This was not an act of vandalism, Our garden is not accessible to anyone as it has high wall at bottom and hedges / shrubs all around. The neighbours had noticed the fire from their balcony and had found a gap in the hedge to get through. 

20/08/2012 at 16:29

Because surely it would have been cooler then-you are talking about compost that spontaneously combusted-but have no evidence to support this and have posted this as a warning to others-there could just be another reason.

20/08/2012 at 16:35

Strange indeed, if it had peat in it you would have got possibly smouldering, in the days we could burn garden rubbish I would damp it down with old compost, that killed any miscreants and we used it again but I never knew it to blaze.
We can take it there were no electrics in the GH, was the plastic the double glaze type, plastic does gas off under heat although it was nine on a Sunday morning the sun would be low in the sky and not up to full heat.
I would be asking how near to a road or field where vandals could strike, was there a smell of petrol or other oils, also ask the neighbours if they saw any one watching, arsonists like to watch what they started.


20/08/2012 at 16:38

There possibly could be a number of reasons, this was only a suggestion,  as there doesn't seem to be a more logical answer. Yes, This can be treated as a warning to others. There are other incidences of this sort of thing happening if you look on internet searches, so it is not a one off phenomenon. Why be so harsh on me, Don't shoot the messenger!


20/08/2012 at 16:40

I must say that I'm sceptical and have never encountered anything like that myself.

But the poster is correct in saying that this can happen in principle:

20/08/2012 at 16:44

Palaisglide in answer to your message:-

The compost was bought from a DIY store ( no names) own brand so may have had anything in it's contents.

This was a plastic 4 tier greenhouse not a proper one! All open so air circulating freely, no electrics, no aerosols, no fertilizer etc.

 No-one can see into the garden from the road.and before anyone asks no it wasn't the neighbours that started the fire!

20/08/2012 at 16:46

It is not a case of shooting the messenger nor am I being harsh but you titled your discussion as "Beware Combustible Compost" -which in itself is alarmist -now you are saying it may not be that it was a just a suggestion-I am saying that I have never heard of this-now you say there have been other instances-perhaps you could link to these?

I have no wish to argue or fall out with anybody on this forum but you need to back up your warning with facts.

20/08/2012 at 16:56

Yes, the idea was to get attention to the discussion. perhaps someone will be able to give a scientific reason for this happening to compost?

I live in a semi rural area and we don't have a problem with arson here.

I will go away and reflect on the loss of my greenhouse by mysterious forces. as it is quite clear forum users think i am a liar or an alarmist. NO!

20/08/2012 at 17:03
honeysuckle2 wrote (see)

Yes, the idea was to get attention to the discussion. perhaps someone will be able to give a scientific reason for this happening to compost?

I live in a semi rural area and we don't have a problem with arson here.

I will go away and reflect on the loss of my greenhouse by mysterious forces. as it is quite clear forum users think i am a liar or an alarmist. NO!

Not at all-and that had not been suggested -but there are a lot of people who have these greenhouses and leave compost in them-you have stated that your's burnt down because of this-can you not see that that is alarmist-without evidence to  support it?


20/08/2012 at 17:25

I have given all the facts that i have in the previous posts, People can now make up their own minds about this. I do not need to be judged, especially by people who do not know me or i them.


20/08/2012 at 20:57
Hiya honeysuckle2, clearly something caused a fire. I don't think compost or anything in it could combust like that. You are angry because you believe it was the compost but I guess we fellow gardeners are a bit worried if this is the case. Is there no possibility of some other cause?
20/08/2012 at 21:38

Honeysuckle2, I for one am not judging you or calling you anything, what I am saying is that in all my years gardening and much of that with peat before the greens got at it I have never known compost self ignite.
I have known Hay and Straw stacks self ignite because the hay-straw was not dried properly and it heated up from the centre. As none of these apply to your GH I am intrigued as to what would cause it.
The sun was low it being nine in the morning is there some glass or reflecting ornament in the garden that would concentrate a beam onto the plastic which would then burn, some plastics do burn fast and furious once started, As a lad I worked at ICI plastics, we built a burner that burned plastic to recover the monomer and believe me it took no firing up, I thought it dangerous stuff back then.
There must be some explanation and I would like to know the answer. Nothing like a mystery to get these pages moving.


23/08/2012 at 16:20

I have now managed to calm down, hopefully this was a one in many million chances that this can happen. I have always been very careful about laeving anything combustible in the sun or near heat sources. My father was an industrial chemist, so analyzing possibilities of what happened is second nature to me. Even though the sun is low at that time of morning it would have been shining on the greenhouse for at least three hours before the fire started, nothing glass or reflecting into the greenhouse... perhaps i'm just unlucky.

23/08/2012 at 18:01

So sorry honeysuckle2 to hear about your greenhouse. It doesn't matter how it started, how upsetting for you and loosing all your cuttings. I know what its like to have your greenhouse damaged, I had someone jump through mine and bend all the frame and broke the glass (they were running from the police) while we were away on holiday, I was so upset but my lovely husband managed to put it right. I hope you can replace your greenhouse soon. Good luck

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