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Man Ends Up In Court Over Escaped Control Burn

MADERA COUNTY — A judgment handed down in Bass Lake Superior court today is a good reminder that citizens are responsible when their burn piles get away from them.

A resident who lives in the 28000 block of Road 400 appeared before Judge Charles Wieland today in a case that involved an escaped burn on Nov. 3.

The man admitted to having lit off a 4 x 4 foot brush pile on his property, and then leaving the fire unattended to make a run to the store.

While he was gone, the burn pile took off and burned onto his neighbor’s property and toward the adjacent home, according to Cal Fire. It charred about one-quarter acre before being brought under control by firefighters.

Only grass was burned in the fire, and thankfully no structures were lost or damaged. But the man was still ordered to pay $500 to Cal Fire and perform 20 hours of community service to satisfy the judgment handed down by the court.

If this fire had gotten any larger or done more damage, the sentence would have been commensurate with the crime. Public Resources Code 4421 states that “a person shall not set fire or cause fire to be set to any forest, brush, or other flammable material which is on any land that is not his own, or under his legal control, without the permission of the owner, lessee, or agent of the owner or lessee of the land.”

So, starting a fire that burns onto your neighbor’s property is against the law.

“Though people are free to burn on permissive burn days, they still need to be wary and use caution,” says Cal Fire Prevention Officer Jaime Williams. “Any time a fire escapes your control, you run the risk of having to go to court and pay a fine.

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