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April 19, 2013

Azle-area man arrested after firefighters suffer exposure from fire

By CHRISTIN COYNE

A Parker County man was arrested Tuesday after two firefighters reportedly suffered smoke inhalation and chemical exposure while attempting to extinguish an illegal burn near Azle.

John Thomas Wood, 61, was arrested and charged with illegal dumping of more than 1,000 pounds of waste, violation of the Texas Clean Air Act by outdoor burning of waste/toxic materials and interference with the duties of a public servant.

Reno and La Junta fire departments responded to a call around 10 a.m. reporting an illegal burn in the 100 block of Shadow Lane. 

A La Junta firefighter told Assistant Fire Marshal Frank Watson that he approached the fire, which was creating a large plume of black smoke, and Wood came toward him in an aggressive manner, yelling and screaming, according to the probable cause affidavit.

When the firefighter asked Wood to back away, Wood refused and told him he needed to leave the property immediately, Watson wrote. After being told the items he was burning were illegal, Wood reportedly stated to the firefighter that he did not care and had been burning the items for years.

Afraid for their safety, the firefighters retreated until the Parker County Sheriff’s Office arrived and detained Wood.

While extinguishing the fire, two firefighters suffered smoke inhalation and exposure to the chemicals being burned, including one who was transported to the hospital for treatment.

Watson wrote that he observed numerous prohibited items had been dumped into a creek being burned, including furniture, mattresses, paint cans, compressed gas cylinders, carpet and plastic buckets, in an area about 25-feet by 25-feet and 2 feet deep.

“Wood stated he had placed the items in the creek over the course of the last year and had decided to burn them today,” Watson wrote.

A message left for Wood at his listed phone number was not returned by deadline.

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