Illegal burning started 90-acre fire

Aug 13, 2013

One man has been charged with burning prohibited materials last week, which allegedly ignited a massive fire in southern Hunt County.

Hunt County Fire Marshal/Director of Homeland Security Richard Hill said Eric Russell was taken into custody over the weekend and charged with a Violation Of The Clean Air Act, for starting the fire Friday which burned more than 90 acres along North Shore Road.

“You cannot set fire to tires, you cannot set fire to your couch and you cannot burn insulation off of your wire,” Hill said.

Meanwhile, Hill’s office is continuing to investigate several recent fires which are considered suspicious in origin, including another fire in southern Hunt County early Monday morning.

A fire broke out Friday evening along North Shore Road, just east of Long Allen Trail and quickly grew to four alarms, covering 91 acres requiring several hours and the efforts of the West Tawakoni, Quinlan, Tawakoni South, Cash, Union Valley, East Tawakoni, Able Springs, Rolling Oaks, Lone Oak and Wills Point fire departments and the Texas Forest Service to bring under control.

“It destroyed one vacant residence, an out building and a motor home,” Hill said, adding David Alexander with the fire marshal’s office investigated the origin of the fire. “And he found the gentleman was burning prohibited items.”

Russell was staying at the residence where the fire was reported to have started and was released on $5,000 bond.

If convicted of the charge, Russell faces a maximum sentence of up to one year in the Hunt County Jail and up to a $50,000 fine, as the charge falls under the Texas Water Code.

A possible rekindle of Friday’s blaze was reported to have set trees along North Shore Road on fire Monday afternoon, with the West Tawakoni and Tawakoni South fire departments responding to the scene.

Hill’s office is currently investigating at least three fires which were reported between late on the night of August 7 and early on the morning of August 8 in the area south of FM 1564 East.

“And we had another one at 6 a.m. today, on County Road 3505, which is under investigation,” Hill said.