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Illegal burn sparks 10-acre grass fire

Illegal burn sparks 10-acre grass fire

A 10-acre grass fire spread across three properties in Courtland Township Tuesday. Here firefighters are shown at the home of Alice Allen, at 8860 16 Mile Rd. Post photo by L. Allen.
The fire was stopped just outside Allen’s barn. Post photo by L. Allen.

By Judy Reed

A Courtland Township resident will be fined after an illegal burn caused a 10-acre grass fire Tuesday, April 28. According to Courtland Fire Chief Steve Mojzuk, Courtland and several other fire departments fought the fire, which was called in at 5:52 p.m.

The first firefighter on the scene at 8860 16 Mile Rd noted the fire was about five acres or more with structures nearby, including a barn. Additional fire departments were called in to help battle the blaze and to keep it from getting to the barn. Those included Oakfield, Cedar Springs, Spencer, and Maple Valley.

According to Chief Mojzuk, Deputy Chief Green was in charge at the scene. They determined that the fire started on a neighbor’s property at 8940 16 Mile. Mojzuk said he was burning household trash—mattresses/box springs, shingles, etc. and left it unattended. The fire then swept across the property to the 8860 address—the home of Alice Allen, who with her daughter Lois Allen, started our newspaper.

Lois said her mom didn’t notice the fire at first. She looked out the window and wondered why it looked foggy, then realized it was smoke and saw the firefighters trying to put out the fire. They kept the fire from getting to the barn and the shed next to it was only slightly charred. The fire also spread to the neighbor on the other side of Allen.

Firefighters cleared the scene at 7:41 p.m.

This was not the first time Alice Allen’s land was ravaged by a fire from the same neighbor, according to Lois. Several years ago a fire was started by a discarded cigarette and it spread to her property and burned down her barn.

Mojzuk noted that Courtland has an ordinance in place to bill for recovery fees if they are dispatched to an illegal burn. “We don’t usually do it but with a fire this big, and with what he was burning—all of it illegal—and the fact he left it unattended, he will be getting a fine,” explained Mojzuk. “If he had called to get a permit, we would have told him those things are illegal to burn.”

He said they figure out the cost of the fine by counting the number of trucks and firefighters at the scene.

Mojzuk had this advice for anyone thinking of burning:

  • First, call your local fire department about a permit.
  • Burn only leaves, brush and wood. NO trash, cardboard, roofing, tires, etc.
  • Have a hose on hand in case it’s needed.
  • Attend the fire until it’s done, and then douse with the hose.

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