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Sunday, May 1, 2016

FIRES Mischief keeps firefighters busy

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Sharp County was not under a burn ban over the weekend, but that does not always mean it's safe to burn.

Most area fire fighters were unable to enjoy the warm weekend weather due to the unusually high volume of wild fires. Most of the fires were unintentionally out of control, but there were a string of fires in the Cave City area that were the result of mischief.

According to the Sharp County Dispatch Coordinator Sara Cole, dispatch received a call from a first responder around 12:30 p.m., requesting a fire truck on Girtman Road. In his call he told dispatch that there was a car driving up and down the road setting fires.

Cole said there were reportedly four to five fires, in this area, at 12:51 p.m. The Cave City Fire Department and Police Department, Sharp County Sheriff's Department and Forestry responded to the call.

Sharp County Officer Gary Mitchell said as he approached the Price residence to question some of the people there, Joseph Stallings was leaving. "An officer hollered for him (Stallings) to stop and he took off," Officer Mitchell said.

Mitchell said Stallings was caught and arrested for theft by receiving due to a stolen license plate on his vehicle. But, he was not charged for setting the fires.

According to Officer Mitchell, Shawn Price and Brandy Mitchell were questioned and Price admitted to setting one of the fires, but was suspected to have set more. "There were no drugs or alcohol involved," Officer Mitchell said. "They were just being mischievous."

The wind made all of the area fires more dangerous and harder to put out. Cherokee Village Fire Chief Mike Taylor said Sunday, all four of their fire trucks were in use.

Fortunately, none of the fires Cherokee Village responded to were structure related. Taylor said one of them did catch a vehicle on fire, though. The residents had been burning earlier in the day and after they thought the fire was burned down enough they left. The fire reignited and spread, reaching the truck.

"The wind was blowing so hard the fire was burning uphill," Taylor said. "It took some time to put out, but we got it."

Ash Flat Fire Chief Stacy Horton said they responded to three wild fires over the weekend. Donald Cooper from the Forestry Department said they had to make four water drops in Wirth due to a 23 acre fire.

Cooper said they have a contract with a company out of Arizona, that is based in Hot Springs, for use of their airplanes during fire season. "There are five (airplanes) state wide, we were able to get two yesterday," Cooper said. "After they (the airplane crews) were done assisting Fulton County with their fires they came to Wirth to help with that fire."

Each airplane holds 500 gallons, of a foam and water mixture that helps to extinguish the fires. "I would like to thank the Cherokee Village Fire Department for filling the planes yesterday," Cooper said.

According to Cooper the air planes flew into the Cherokee Village Airport where they were met by Cherokee Village fire trucks. The trucks, full of water, filled all of the loads Sunday.

"It is a requirement that all fires be attended until they are extinguished," Taylor said. "If a resident sets a fire, they should take the necessary steps to make sure it is out before leaving."

Taylor said just because there is not a burn ban in a city or county does not always mean it is safe to burn. When the wind is as strong as it was during the weekend it is best not to burn at all, especially with the amount of debris in the area from the ice storm.

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