Firefighters from Westmoreland and Lafayette, and state Forestry Department personnel worked feverishly Wednesday afternoon, March 7 to protect a number of residences and J.L. Hix mechanics garage from brush fires that raged for nearly five hours.
Brush in an area estimated at covering more than 100 acres burned, driven by 10-15 mph easterly winds. The hills and hollows bordering Hwy. 141 (the Green Grove Road) just a quarter mile south of Hwy. 52-west were blackened by the fast moving brush fires, believed to have been started by a resident burning trash or brush without a permit.
The state Forestry Service is investigating the origin of the fire, which did little or no real property damage but consumed many man-hours from the two fire departments, and the Forestry Service personnel operating a fire-plow and back fire operation, mounted to protect structures and dwellings threatened by the fires.
A heavy fine may be levied against an individual or individuals identified as being responsible for the wild fire.
The efficient use of the Forestry Service fire plow, operated by Bobby Linville, followed on foot by Lanny Newberry who set back-fires with a propane torch, is credited with protecting several residences and the Hix Garage from the wild fire. The fire did briefly "jump the road" to the east side of Hwy. 141, but it's progress was arrested before it could spread more widely. The closest the brush fire came to any residence in the area was about 30 feet, said a LFD spokesperson.
Lafayette and Westmoreland firefighters refilled tanker trucks at the nearby Westside Elementary School fire hydrant. West Macon Rescue Squad members were paged out to assist with traffic control, and Hwy. 141 was closed to all but local traffic to reduce the number of curiosity seekers who always seem to gravitate to wrecks and fires.
The Lafayette firefighters were called out at 2:20 p.m. to assist Westmoreland units already on the scene. Firefighters returned to the fire hall at about 7:20 p.m. Winds died down at nightfall, and the brush fires burned themselves out shortly after dark.
One Westmoreland firefighter was reportedly transported to Sumner Regional Medical Center for treatment of smoke inhalation and exhaustion.
RBS COUNCIL CALLS SPECIAL MEETING
Meeting in regular session Thursday night, March 8, the Red Boiling City Council rejected a proposal to grant a natural gas franchise to a Cookeville company. Instead, Mayor Kenneth Hollis proposed that the city borrow $250,000 to purchase the assets of RBS Gas Utility, now in receivership.
Voting to reject the franchise proposal were council members Roark, Spivy, Whitley and Etheridge. Councilmen Ray Bilbry and Lawrence Hollis voted in favor of granting the franchise.
Because a resolution to buy the gas company assets must be in writing, the council and mayor set a Special Called Meeting for Thursday night, March 15 at 6:00 p.m. at City Hall.
"The purpose of the meeting is to pass necessary resolutions to borrow $250,000 to purchase RBS natural gas system assets," states the call, which was sent to all members of the city council at the direction of Mayor Kenneth Hollis on Friday, March 9.
Other business which came before the council will be reported in next week's print edition of The Macon County Times.
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LAFAYETTE CITY COUNCIL MEETING
The City Council met on March 6. One item of particular interest was the Lafayette waste water plant. The Lafayette City Council agreed to finance a project for the facility for up to four million dollars, which will be paid back in 20 years at 1.6% interest. Jerry Wilmore stated there would be no increase in the current sewer rate from this vote.
MACON COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD MEETING
The Macon County Board of Education met on March 8. Detective Bill Cothron of the Macon County Sheriff's Department told the board about ongoing problems in the schools related to students displaying pornographic materials on their cellular phones. The board members talked at length about the matter and possible ways to address this issue. Detective Cothron will be holding a meeting at the Macon County Junior High at 7 p.m. March 15. Parents are encouraged to attend and participate in learning how to handle this growing problem and educate their children about the risks of having this kind of information on their phones.