Firefighters Watch as Home Burns to the Ground

Posted October 22nd, 2010
by HomeownersInsurance.org Staff (no comments)

It’s a scene that would make most firefighters sick, and angered most of the locals, including the fire department itself. Firefighters in a small Tennessee town recently responded to a house fire just outside of city limits, but instead of fighting the blaze, they were ordered to let the double-wide trailer burn to the ground. Turns out, the owner had not paid his $75 firefighting subscription fee and was therefore not covered by the municipal fire department.

Homeowner Gene Cranick pleaded with firefighters to put out the flames, saying he had simply forgotten to pay the bill and that he would gladly pay them the money if only they would put out the blaze. His wife, Paulette didn’t put the blame on firefighters for not dousing the flames because she understood they were just following orders. The family’s cat and three dogs died in the fire.

The town’s mayor, David Crocker, stands by the policy that allowed the Cranick’s home to burn to the ground. The city of South Fulton charges $75 a year for fire protection services extended to rural residents beyond the city limits.

“Anybody that’s not in the city of South Fulton, it’s a service we offer, either they accept it or they don’t.”

Cranick’s call to 911 was fruitless, even though he offered to pay the fee several times. Firefighters did not initially respond until Cranick’s neighbor, who had paid his fee, called 911 out of concern the fire might spread to his house. Firefighters then came to the scene, but did nothing to put out the blaze at the Cranick house.

“My neighbor called [the fire department], saying whatever it takes, we want them to put it out, we’ll pay $500,” said Cranick. “They told us, ‘It’s too late.'”

Cranick’s son, Timothy, reportedly got so angry over the incident that he later went to the firehouse and punched fire chief David Wilds. He was charged with aggravated assault and is currently free on bond.

The elder Cranick, meanwhile, reports that homeowners insurance will cover some of what was lost, but admits that he didn’t have enough coverage to protect him and his family against a total loss. Although the local community and outraged people nationwide have made offers of assistance, the Cranick family has graciously turned them down, saying they will donate the money to charity since they are receiving help from their insurance company.

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