It's So Hot in New York That Poop Is Bursting into Flame

(Photo: David MW)

How hot is it? It's firey poop hot. Officers with the state's Department of Environmental Conservation found that piles of horse manure in a barn in Throop, New York have been spontaneously catching fire. The AP reports:

The responding officer learned that the owners of a horse stable had been storing the manure in large piles that frequently spontaneously combusted in the excessive heat and dry conditions.

DEC officials say a shift in the prevailing winds carried the odor of burning manure into the neighbors' windows.

It took three local fire departments two hours to douse the burning manure.

-via Dave Barry

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"[H]igher temperatures do not of themselves raise the risk of the pile igniting." Why not? Given that heat is one of the 3 legs of the fire triangle, a hotter ambient environment supplying additional heat would mean that the chemical process would reach the critical temperature for combustion sooner. (Conversely, in winter, any heat generated by the composting process will radiate into the environment and the pile will fail to ignite.) Agree or disagree?
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Manure-pile fires are nothing new; piling up manure, often mixed with hay and sawdust, is part of the composting process to turn it into fertilizer. The composting process generates heat in the pile, and if not turned over regularly, the center of the pile can reach temperatures high enough to ignite. The composting process requires a minimum ambient temperature for the microorganisms responsible to reproduce well, but higher temperatures do not of themselves raise the risk of the pile igniting.
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