Controlled burn was 'set of bad circumstances'

Cary Ashby • Aug 10, 2019 at 5:15 PM

The Norwalk Fire Department decided not to cite a Norwalk homeowner in connection with burning an outbuilding.

Eight firefighters in three trucks arrived at 5048 Ohio 601 at 8:08 p.m. Wednesday. The crew cleared the area at 8:57. The Huron County Sheriff’s Office also responded.

The burned building was 15 feet by 30 feet. The fire started in the northwest corner.

Before the fire, the homeowner called the non-emergency number for the Milan Township Volunteer Fire Department which rings through to North Central EMS, said Capt. Dan Hunt, of the Norwalk Fire Department. The man called to notify authorities about a controlled burn.

“They should not be telling (people) yes or no,” Hunt said, referring to North Central. “They are not a fire department; that’s likely how the mix-up occurred.”

The homeowner basically received the OK, but authorities said they realized later there was a communication breakdown. According to a report from the sheriff’s office, the man reportedly was told he had permission to burn the outbuilding. 

Capt. Rick Perry, who noted the man wanted to get rid of the structure, said the homeowner “thought it was entirely legal” to burn it.

Milan Township Volunteer Fire Chief Brian Rospert said he checked into the situation and learned nobody from his department gave the approval to the homeowner.

“I don’t know where that information came from, but I did a little bit of (an) investigation and nobody from (the) Milan Township fire department allowed that man to burn,” he added.

The man’s property is south of Milan.

Hunt said the homeowner burned the outbuilding “in good faith” based on the feedback he had and didn’t think he did anything wrong. The Norwalk fire captain oversaw the scene and subsequent investigation.

“It was a set of bad circumstances,” Hunt said. “He thought he was doing the right thing and made the call (to North Central). … It wasn’t his fault, so I couldn’t see me citing him.”

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