No charges after unauthorized controlled burn

By Erin Kourkounis
Daily Journal

TUPELO – Tupelo Fire Chief Marc Flanagan said Monday that no charges will be filed against a farmer who performed an unauthorized controlled burn in fields north and south of Main Street on Sunday.

Firefighters went to the site of the burn in response to a 911 caller who reported heavy smoke and fire in the area.

The fire, which was started around noon, occurred because of a misconception on the farmer's part, said Flanagan, who declined to give the man's name.

“He thought that as long as there wasn't a burn ban in the county, he could burn. It was a controlled burn on the owner's part but it was not an authorized controlled burn,” he said. “It was an agricultural fire basically. It never got out of control.”

Flanagan said the farmer took what he knew to be the right safety precautions.

Although Lee County is not under a burn ban, Flanagan said the city of Tupelo prohibits all open burning. Under the ordinance, among other things, contractors cannot burn scrap materials from buildings and people cannot burn brush in their yards.

He said ordinances are placed for reasons of safety.

Not only can fires get out of hand, but Flanagan said a lot of people experience asthmatic ailments when they are around smoke.

“There’s 38,000 people that are affected when people burn. The thing most people don’t realize is that when you burn you affect others,” he said.

Although charges were not pressed on the man who performed the burn, Flanagan said firefighters educated him on the no burn ordinance.

Read more of this story in Tuesday's Daily Journal.