By Echo Menges
Thursday afternoon, August 9, 2012, the Edina Fire Department responded to a grass fire in the northwest part of town in the area of North Cottey, West Marion and North Baker streets.
The blaze began in the backyard of the Hutchens’ home, spread to the yard of neighbor Karlene Deveny and to an adjoining lot owned by Tom Deveny.
There was only minor damage to the properties affected by the fire, but one of the affected parties, Karlene Deveny, says she reported her neighbors for having an unattended fire in their backyard by calling the Edina City Hall hours earlier and the damage to her landscape could have easily been prevented.
“I saw (Tom Hutchens) out there burning boxes of leaves and pine needles in the morning. There was a lot of wind and no one was out there watching the fire when it was time for me to go to work right around noon so I called City Hall,” said Deveny showing her cell phone call history, which showed she did make a call to the Edina City Hall at 11:57 a.m. the day of the fire.
According to Deveny she reported the fire to City of Edina Collector Melissa Yoakum who informed her that city, county and state wide burn bans were still in effect and police would have to be notified.
“She did call right around noon,” said Yoakum. “I reported it to (Edina Police Chief) Roger (Waibel) immediately, before I went to lunch. I called him on his cell phone.”
According to Hutchens he didn’t know there was a burn ban in effect and wasn’t notified by the police that there was a ban on burning or that he shouldn’t be burning until around 3:00 p.m., well after the fire had been extinguished by the fire department.
“The time of the call was 2:29 p.m. and we arrived on scene at 2:33 p.m.,” said Assistant Chief Tom Morgret. “It burned about two acres. That little bit of wind had it jumping up the hill. It’s still not okay to burn. Anybody thinking about burning should have been there watching that grass fire go and they’d think again about burning in these conditions.”
“It was a blessing the fire wasn’t worse,” said Hutchens.