Man clearing property intentionally sets structure on fire
The attention of three local fire departments and approximately 15 emergency workers and personnel was captured on Friday when they responded to a call for help only to find that it was unwanted.
“Basically, the property owner was burning his house and he didn’t let anyone know he was doing it,” said Dixie Inn Fire Chief Mitch Middleton.
Calls were reportedly placed to dispatch of a fire consuming a singlewide trailer approximately 10 miles north of Dixie Inn on Highway 371.
Fire Departments (FD) District 7 FD (Dixie Inn), District 8 FD (Cotton Valley) and Minden FD arrived on the scene of the fire, ready to fight the flames engulfing the structure.
However, the property owner, Fred Tilley, told the emergency workers that he did not want the fire extinguished.
“We had to put it out after the emergency call had been placed, even though the property owner intended to burn the structure,” Middleton said. “After the emergency call and the joint effort of three departments showing up, we had to put it out.”
Dixie Inn Police Chief Jim Edwards said it is not against the law for property owners to burn structures or debris on their property and no charges are currently being filed against Tilley.
“I can understand someone wanting to do that (clear property through burning), but there is a safe way to go about it.” Middleton said. “That’s what we (fire departments) are here for.”
People looking to burn structures or other items, are urged call their local fire department.
“We are more than willing to teach people how to properly burn,” Middleton said. “We will even go to their property to check it before the burn and even stay and do the burn for them in some cases.”
In order to comply with laws and ensure safety, Middleton and Edwards agree it is in the property owner’s best interest to contact local fire departments before attempting to burn structures.
“The only thing that might be an issue is if a person were to burn a structure and then try to claim it on insurance; that would be insurance fraud,” Edwards said. “However, I do not think that was the case here.
“The second thing would be if the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) got involved,” he continued. “Typically they (EPA) want the structure to be checked before burning to make sure hazardous materials won’t be released or exposed during the burn.”