Ronnie Hayes' Departure May Spell Trouble for Columbus County - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Ronnie Hayes' Departure May Spell Trouble for Columbus County

COLUMBUS COUNTY -- The Fire Department, Emergency Management and 911 Center in Columbus County will all feel the effects of Ronnie Hayes' resignation.

Hayes headed up all three agencies.  His departure could cause big problems for the county.

"It's going to affect all of us," said Fire Chief Steve Comlin.  "It might not be up front, but as slow as it is to find someone competent to fill those positions, it could take a while."

The last time Columbus County did not have a fire marshal was in the mid 1980s.  During that time they saw a series of fires.  Residents hope that it is not a harsh reminder of what is to come.

"I don't know if it's going to be a flashback," said Comlin, "but it's a reality."

With only one fire inspector left in the county, the situation is dire for everyone.

"It's the hurricane season, and we're in the middle of it," said Comlin, "and we're right here in 'hurricane alley' with no emergency management coordinator, and no contacts between us and the state, so we're basically on our own."

Chief Comlin said that Hayes was forced to resign amid questions about his relationship with other county officials.

Reported by Kim Gebbia

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