Cowger takes strong stand
Columbus Fire Chief Rich Cowger says enacting a burn permit system could help eliminate some of the substantial loses suffered in years past due to controlled burns.
Calling the proposed permit system “smart, reasonable and proactive,” Cowger referenced the 2006 Saunders Fire that burned 3,175 acres and cost the county $80,000 and the Department of Natural Resource & Conversation more than $800,000.
At that time, the then-county attorney determined that because the county did not have a permit system in place, there was not recourse to try and recoup any of the money through civil litigation.
Pine Crest resident and Stillwater County Sheriff’s employee Tammie Mullikin also points out that without a permit system, there is no chance to hold anyone criminally accountable for burns conducted in dangerous conditions that result in destruction.
Cowger also said that so far this year, in the Columbus Fire District alone there have been 268 known controlled burns, at least 10 of which required a fire department response. Even in cases of a false alarm, which is almost always the case, it is still costing money.
“We’re still responding people and equipment out the door,” said Cowger.