BALTIMORE (WJZ) — In the middle of the night, people near White Marsh noticed the smell of rubber burning.

As WJZ’s Mike Schuh reports, the source of that smell became evident near dawn at Wirtz and Daughters landscape supply’s mulch facility, tucked way off Pulaski Highway next to the county landfill.

It wasn’t the mulch itself that was on fire, but rather three huge machines that grind logs into mulch. One of them costs $900,000.

One of them caught on fire in the middle of the night, but it wasn’t until a driver arrived to work at 5 a.m. that the blaze was discovered.

A burning rubber conveyor belt helped it spread from one goliath machine to the next.

With the closest water source a half mile away, $1.5 million worth of gear was gone before the fire was extinguished.

Owner Gary Wirtz tells WJZ that the stockpile of mulch they had built up for the season should carry them through the summer until they can get replacement machines.

“Six weeks ago it would have killed us,” he said.

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