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Smoke, road visibility concerns in south Forsyth County fire

Mulch company's fire under control

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September 24, 2012
FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — Smoke from a mulch company will likely obstruct motorists' views on Ga. 400 as nighttime approaches.

An overnight fire in south Forsyth at Cowarts Mulch, 4971 Shiloh Road in Cumming, continued to burn Monday afternoon and will continue through the night Sept. 24, Forsyth County Fire officials told the Forsyth Herald.

"There's very little we can do from a responsive nature from the fire department," Forsyth County Fire Division Chief Jason Shivers. "We are standing by, monitoring the situation, ensuring the fire does not get out of the perimeter of Cowarts Mulch and starts affecting other properties in the area."

There's very little the fire department can do, Shivers said. Throwing water on the fire of this size — about 50 feet tall in some areas — will be ineffective, he said.

The fire's range is about an acre in size.

It's not the mulch that is burning, Shivers said. It's the mulch raw products such as the stumps and logs and limbs that produce the mulch.

"It's burning significantly and producing copious amounts of smoke," he said.

Aside from a nuisance for the area, affecting commuters and those with smoke sensitivity, there is no immediate danger.

"The surrounding community is very safe and we are monitoring very closely ensuring it does not get outside of the perimeter of Cowarts Mulch," Shivers said.

There are no road closures, but as evening approaches and temperatures drop and the humidity increases, fire officials are concerned the smoke may block drivers' vision of the roadway.

"We are asking that everyone be aware of that and drive cautiously and be advised of heavy smoke in the area," Shivers said.

There are two engine companies and a brush truck on the scene.

The fire started at 3 a.m. Sept. 24 and will continue through Tuesday.

Investigators have not confirmed what started the blaze, but a spontaneous combustion in one or more of the mulch piles is likely and common, Shivers said.

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Tags: Government & News & Crime

  1. report print email
    Who is paying?
    September 25, 2012 | 11:33 AM

    I want to know if Cowart's is footing the bill for the two trucks that are sitting on site for the duration of this controlled fire? If not, I do not think this is a very good use of tax payer money, just like I do not think that the police should be used to monitor traffic on Sunday mornings around large churches. These are not 'public safety' issues, these are private companies using county services for thier own benefit.

  2. report print email
    September 26, 2012 | 09:26 AM

    I am not a fan of mega churches or Sunday churches but the police officers are there to service the citizens regardless of the function they are attending. Just like the police are there to monitor traffic during a baseball or major sports event, they are there to assist in the direction of traffic for large church functions where needed. Besides it also serves to alleviate congestion for other drivers who are not attending but are driving on the same road.

  3. report print email
    Churches pay for this
    September 26, 2012 | 01:19 PM

    I could be wrong, but I think churches pay for the police officers you see directing traffic on Sunday mornings.

    As someone who lives close enough to this fire to smell it, I'm thankful the Forsyth Fire Department is on-scene monitoring the situation.

    S Lee Guy
    Alpharetta, GA
  4. report print email
    September 26, 2012 | 01:41 PM

    Churches pay typically. But pretty sure businesses pay taxes, which pays for their share of times where the Fire/Police are needed. So, by paying taxes they have paid for county services.

  5. report print email
    September 26, 2012 | 01:41 PM

    Churches pay typically. But pretty sure businesses pay taxes, which pays for their share of times where the Fire/Police are needed. So, by paying taxes they have paid for county services.

  6. report print email
    Public services
    September 27, 2012 | 10:02 AM

    True, while a business may pay their share of taxes, the police and fire departments are not funded to place two trucks up a private business. They are funded by taxes to be there in case of an emergency. As far as the churches, if they pay for the officers to control traffic, then I have no problem with that. It should be no different than a school paying officers to work 'specials' to patrol traffic for football games and other events.

  7. report print email
    Public Services
    October 04, 2012 | 10:56 AM

    I know some Alpharetta police officers do work on off duty time by proving traffic control measures for large church events. You will also see state troopers assisting. Many agencies do this. Due to the large number of vehicles entering and leaving the city for these services, it is imperative for those officers to work to ensure traffic flows freely for everyone. We know how frustrating traffic congrestion can be. These officers are funded by the church. I know Alpharetta police is one of the few agencies in Georgia that requires their off duty officers to reinburse back to the city ten percent of the money they earn while working off duty. This covers the use of the vehicle and fuel. This ensures no taxpayer or city monies are used. The vast majority of cities do not do this but Alpharetta does. Kudos to them...

    Cumming resident
  8. report print email
    Off Duty Work
    October 04, 2012 | 12:04 PM

    Somewhat unrelated anecdote, but these guys make bank working off duty. I spoke to a cop recently who said he made double his normal pay (something like $25/hr) to sit in his car at a church parking lot overnight.

  9. report print email
    Off Duty Work
    October 05, 2012 | 09:11 AM

    I'm confident your example is from a different city. However thank you for the advice.

    Cumming resident
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