Bonfire spurs neighbor dispute, investigation

Mad River Twp./Enon Fire and EMS Chief Tracy Young said between the festivities and nice weather, he expects a lot of fireworks and fires.

“Usually when these cooler days and nights kick in, the recreational fires start to fire up,” he said.

Young is investigating a bonfire one of his firefighters hosted June 21 and declined to comment on the the case until he presents his findings to township trustees on Monday.

Neighbor Gene Rohr called the township fire department after he believed the fire got out of control.

“When I got up and looked out the back window, I looked out and saw this inferno and feared for my property,” he said.

He called dispatchers to report flames from the bonfire reaching more than 30 feet and was told someone would respond. However, no fire trucks ever came.

“The impression I got is that they phoned in and said they would extinguish it themselves,” he said.

The fire was still going at 4:30 a.m, Rohr said, and it was still smoking the next morning.

Also a guest who was leaving the party tried to drive through Rohr’s driveway, he said. Rohr asked him to stop and go through his neighbor’s property.

Rohr said the driver, David Douglas, a Harmony Twp. Fire employee, backed up and then drove at him. Rohr said he had to jump on top of the car to avoid getting hit and in the process, dented the car with a flashlight.

Sheriff deputies responded to the incident, and an incident report says the parties had conflicting stories. The two sides agreed not to press charges against each other.

But Rohr said he believes the deputies showed favoritism to Douglas because of his profession.

Deputies don’t play favorites, Clark County Sheriff’s Maj. Russell Garman said.

“I know myself. I don’t care where you work at. I’m not going to put my job in jeopardy or my career in jeopardy by taking care of someone. I’ve never seen that,” Garman said.

A legal bonfire in Ohio has to be smaller than 5 feet by 5 feet and cannot burn longer than three hours.

Young reminded residents to always pay attention to where fires are burning, what is burning and how large it is getting.

He also warned about fireworks this weekend. His department has a video on its Facebook page about how sparklers can light clothing on fire and burn skin.

“Something as mundane as sparklers can be hazardous,” Young said.

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