Local Man Faces Large Bill After Forest Fire - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Local Man Faces Large Bill After Forest Fire

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by Nick Beres

RUTHERFORD COUNTY, Tenn. - Imagine your hard earned money going up in smoke. A Rutherford County man could find himself paying thousands after a controlled burn he started got out of control.

"It ended up taking on a life of its own," said Rutherford County Sheriff Robert Arnold. 

Arnold's deputies joined state Forestry Agents and volunteer firefighters Friday at the blaze along the Rutherford-Williamson County line.

"They worked into the late hours of the night," said Arnold.

The fire burned for more than seven hours and charred more than 25-acres of land.

The sheriff said homeowner Donald Powell of Arrington did not have a permit to burn garbage in his backyard. 

The incident report states: "He watched over the fire for 'a little while' and went back inside his residence and took a shower.  When he got out of the shower he looked outside near the garbage pile he was burning and observed the fire had spread into the woods."

"He was negligent on two parts: No permit and he walked off and left it," said Fire Chief Larry Farley with Rutherford County Fire and Rescue. 

Farley said they had to call a bulldozer in to help cut a fireline to stop the flames. The dozer actually flipped on a slope, but the driver was not injured.

Sheriff Arnold is compiling a list of expenses -- from salary to water to diesel fuel -- spent to fight the fire and will submit that to prosecutors for Powell to pay back.

He is charged with a misdemeanor for not burning with a permit and not watching the fire.

Between October 15 and May 15, a permit is required in Tennessee to burn debris on property.

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