The operator of any coal mine or the owner of land bearing natural coal deposits immediately upon learning of a fire in any coal seam upon the operator's or owner's property shall report the fire to the chief of the division of mineral resources management.
When a coal seam fire is reported to the chief, the chief shall immediately investigate such fire. In the event of a fire in any outcrop of a coal seam or in an abandoned mine, the chief shall extinguish such fire, and the chief may employ such persons and purchase such materials as are necessary to extinguish such fire. Persons so employed shall serve at the pleasure of the chief and their employment shall not be governed by civil service laws, rules, or regulations. Materials purchased for immediate use in extinguishing a fire shall be emergency purchases and shall be paid for out of state funds appropriated for such purpose upon vouchers issued by the chief certifying to the emergency nature of the purchase, notwithstanding the fact that there has been no compliance with other laws governing the making of purchases by the state.
Whenever, after August 26, 1949, the surface of a natural deposit of coal is exposed by mining operations, the chief may order the owner, lessee, or agent of the mine at which such exposure occurs to cover such exposed surface with earth or other noncombustible material if, in the judgment of the chief, such covering is necessary to prevent a fire in the coal that would endanger life or property. Such order shall be in writing and shall fix a reasonable time for compliance therewith. No operator of a mine shall refuse or neglect to comply with such order for a period of fifteen days after the expiration of the time fixed in such order for compliance therewith. Each period of fifteen days after the expiration of the time fixed in such order for compliance therewith, during which any such operator refuses or neglects to comply with such order, constitutes a separate offense.
Effective Date: 06-14-2000 .