Weatherford Democrat

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January 29, 2013

Man arrested for starting grass fire

 

By CHRISTIN COYNE

ccoyne@weatherforddemocrat.com

A man accused of starting a 40-acre grass fire while unlawfully burning a variety of materials was arrested and charged Wednesday. 

Matthew Neal Weems, 29, was arrested on a class A misdemeanor charge of violation of the Texas Clean Air Act. 

Firefighters responding to the grass fire in the 3700 block of Upper Denton Road reported they saw Weems on a tractor attemping to fill in the burning pit while it was still on fire but made no attempt to stop the fire rapidly spreading from behind his residence, Assistant Fire Marshal Frank Watson wrote in a probable cause affidavit. 

Weems repotedly smelled like alcohol and told the marshal that he had been burning leaves in a large, 4-foot deep pit. 

However, firefighters reportedly uncovered the remnants of burned shingles, plastic 5-gallon chemical containers, spray paint cans, freon and a burned tire and rim under a layer of dirt.

Weems then admitted that he was aware of all the prohibited items that were being burned, according to Watson.  

Weems stated that he set the pile of shingles on fire that afternoon and left the fire unattended, finding it had grown out of control when he came out of the house again, Watson wrote. 

He was not the only Parker County man to be arrested on an illegal burning charge in over the past week. 

Watson arrested 43-year-old Jeff Sean Rigstad Jan. 13 after he was dispatched to the 4900 block of Tin Top Road for a possible illegal controlled burn around 6 p.m. 

A fire, described as 10-foot by 10-foot with 8-foot flames, was producing thick, heavy black smoke, according to Watson. 

Rigstad reportedly introduced himself and said everything was OK, that he had just called fire dispatch to tell them that everything was under control and he would be putting out the fire. 

Watson wrote that he found two burn piles on the property containing remnants of a vehicle bench seat, household furniture, treated lumber from furniture, mattresses, plastics, chemical wastes such as paint, plastic oil container and foam rubber. 

He also reported locating remnants of copper wiring and wire insulation, as well as an artificial Christmas tree.

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