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Manure is volatile as it decomposes

September 23, 2009|Esmeralda Bermudez

Manure becomes volatile as it decomposes. Gases, including methane and hydrogen sulfide, are naturally produced as the animal waste breaks down.

As weather becomes hotter, methane becomes highly combustible, which can cause the manure to spontaneously explode and sometimes catch fire.

Since methane is lighter than air, it builds up on top of unvented areas, such as in closed pits. It is recommended that all areas with manure be ventilated to prevent explosions.

Figures showing how many brush fires have been caused by manure explosions are not available, said Ventura County Fire Department spokesman Tom Kruschke.

"We have had that occur in the past, but I don't believe it happens very often," he said.

-- Esmeralda Bermudez

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