A rancher who decided to burn trash on his property northeast of Congress on June 16 set off a brush fire, destroying two sheds, causing road and rail delays and threatening another ranch, said Dwight D’Evelyn, spokesman for the Sheriff’s Office.
The rancher, an 82-year-old man, started burning the trash in a barrel around 11:45 a.m., then decided he needed to have a bucket of water nearby and left the fire unattended to get it.
By the time he returned, the field was on fire.
When deputies arrived at the property on Hillside Road, the fire had already spread to two sheds and a vehicle, and was putting out enough smoke that the Highway Patrol had to close Highway 89
“The fire was spreading toward a nearby ranch and those residents were warned of the danger,” D’Evelyn said. “Additionally, the fire was adjacent to railroad tracks, so BNSF was notified and held all railroad traffic for hours until the fire was extinguished.”
The rancher told deputies that he was unaware of the county-wide burn ban, despite digital sign on Highway 89 in Congress announcing it.
He was issued a criminal citation for reckless burning.