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Illinois Town, Volunteer Fire Department Argue Over Who Should Pay For Mulch Fire

POPLAR GROVE, Ill. (CBS) -- Fighting a large mulch fire in Northern Illinois has resulted in a big price tag, and disagreement over who is going to pay it.

As WBBM Newsradio's Pat Cassidy reports, the mulch fire broke out last May in the Boone county community of Poplar Grove, far northwest of Chicago.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio's Pat Cassidy reports


The fire required the help of more than 100 different agencies and 4 million gallons of water to extinguish it, costing an estimated $46,000.

The Village of Poplar Grove and the Rural Boone County Fire Protection District disagree on who should pay it. They say several fire codes were violated by the mulch owner, but they still can't establish who was at fault.

The permit for the mulch pile required that the owner, Northwest Pallet, comply with fire codes, and the fire protection district was responsible for confirm that the owner was in compliance, the Rockford Register-Star reported.

Among the codes they violated were a lack of fire access roads, piles that were much too big, and static piles that were not monitored in case they got hot, the newspaper reported.

Fire Chief Mel Johnson says it is difficult to find people in a volunteer fire department to do the legwork to regulate mulch piles.

Officials at a meeting of the Boone County Health and Human Services Committee on Thursday were still trying to figure out who's at fault.

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS Radio and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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