Mulch fire

A large mulch fire in western Barrow County that has been burning since Saturday, Oct. 3, is causing smoke primarily in the area of Highway 316 and Patrick Mill Road. Barrow County Emergency Services officials said Wednesday, Oct. 7, that the fire is under control and has not caused any injuries or damages to structures. Authorities are investigating whether the fire was intentionally set and whether it was properly permitted. 

A large mulch fire currently burning in western Barrow County is under control and there is not a danger of it spreading, Barrow County Emergency Services officials said Wednesday, Oct 7.

Emergency dispatchers in the county have fielded numerous calls of smoke in the air — mainly in the area of Highway 316 and Patrick Mill Road — since Saturday, Oct. 3, when a fire broke out at Cowart Mulch. The fire involves mulch, pallets and other debris burning in an open, two-acre area, according to a news release.

No structures are involved or threatened, and it is not known at this time if the fire was intentionally set, officials said.

Crews were on scene Wednesday attempting to douse the flames with large volumes of water in an effort to control some of the smoke. Because of the close proximity to Highway 316, traffic visibility has become an issue at times.

“A large berm has been built around the fire, and a ‘moat’ filled with water inside of that berm to prevent the spread of the fire,” said BCES Chief Alan Shuman. “However, the fire is very deep-seated and is burning under piles of debris. Our strategy now is to continue to dig to expose the fire and to extinguish. Unfortunately, this fire will continue to smolder and smoke for some time.”

No injuries have been reported as a result of the fire. In response to questions on social media, officials said the Georgia Forestry Commission issues burn permits, and BCES is not sure if the business acquired the proper permits, or if the fire was set intentionally.

“In the coming days, our investigators will work with officials from the Georgia Environmental Protection Agency to determine the chain of events leading to this event and see what can be done to prevent it from happening again,” officials said.

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