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Firefighters let home burn over $75 fee -- again

Firefighters in Tennessee let a home burn to the ground because the owners did not pay a $75 fire subscription fee. WPSD-TV's Jason Hibbs reports.


SOUTH FULTON, Tenn. -- Firefighters stood by and watched a Tennessee house burn to the ground earlier this week because the homeowners didn't pay the annual subscription fee for fire service.

"You could look out my mom's trailer and see the trucks sitting at a distance," Vicky Bell, the homeowner, said.

For Bell, that sight was almost as disturbing as the fire itself.

"We just wished we could've gotten more out," she said. 

It's the second time in two years firefighters in the area have watched a house burn because of unpaid fees. Last year, Gene Cranick of Obion County and his family lost all of their possessions in a house fire, along with three dogs and a cat, because the fire fee wasn't paid.

Related: No pay, no spray: Firefighters watch home burn

People in the city of South Fulton have fire protection, but those in the surrounding county do not unless they pay a $75 annual fee.

The city makes no exceptions.

"There's no way to go to every fire and be able to keep up the manpower, the equipment, and just the funding for the fire department," said South Fulton Mayor David Crocker.

Crocker said that by now, everyone should know about the city's fire policy.

"After the last situation, I would hope that everybody would be well aware of the rural fire fees, this time," he said.

In a nearby county, rural homeowners can purchase a $110 subscription to cover fires, but they can also pay on the spot for fire protection: $2,200 for the first two hours firefighters are on the scene and $1,100 for each additional hour, according to dailytimes.com.

Bell and her boyfriend said they were aware of the policy, but thought a fire would never happen to them.

The city has received a lot of criticism over its policy, but has refused to change it.

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