Gardening tips and more from KIRO Radio's Ciscoe Morris
Ciscoe Morris
pepper
How can a pepper plant spontaneously combust and start a fire? Ciscoe Morris takes a stab at the mystery. (Jason Adams)

Ciscoe Morris: Can a pepper plant spontaneously combust?

A hot little pepper has stumped gardening guru Ciscoe Morris.

Firefighters responded to a fire that John Curley's brother-in-law, Jason Adams, says started in his three-inch pepper pot placed in his garage.

"It's totally impossible that this pepper burst into flames," said Morris.

But Adams defends what he saw.

"It started 10 seconds before I opened the door because it didn't even touch the wall yet. The Styrofoam that was on fire was inches from the wall, but all the wall damage was the smoke marks," he said.

Adams quickly grabbed a fire extinguisher and put out the fire.

The firefighters pointed to the smoldering pot with a destroyed habanero seedling as the source of the fire.

"They were thinking there was some sort of pressure or some change in there that caused it to heat up to the point where it just spontaneously combusted," said Adams.

"I've eaten habaneros that are so hot that it actually singed that geezer hair right out of my ears," said Morris.

Joking aside, Morris said it takes a lot more than a three-inch pot full of compost to combust; it's more like a three-foot container that's needed to generate enough heat.

Grow lights are often dangerously positioned too close to plants and flammables, but Adams said his was hanging 10-feet high.

Morris said the story sounds like something from the Twilight Zone, but maybe Adams is correct about too much pressure in the little pot made of cow manure.

"You might be saving millions of people from burning their garages up," joked Morris.

Stephanie Klein, MyNorthwest.com Editor
Stephanie joined the MyNorthwest.com team in February 2008. She has built the site into a two-time National Edward R. Murrow Award winner (Best Radio Website 2010, 2012).
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Ciscoe Morris on KIRO Radio
Tune in to KIRO Radio on Saturday from 10am-12noon for Gardening with Ciscoe.

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