False alarm ‘permitted,’ but better safe than sorry, chief says
Peabody firefighters were rousted out their routines about 10 p.m. when they were called out for a “large fire” in the 700 block of Olive St.
Dispatchers reported that possibly two structures were on fire, and as trucks arrived at the scene, trees glowed bright orange as a thick pillar of smoke rose behind a two-story house and near a garage.
When firefighters raced to the back of the house, they discovered there wasn’t a structure fire at all.
A bonfire of scraps was burning furiously, several feet tall and neatly constructed, sufficiently far away from the house and a garage with a man standing close watch.
“The people that called it in, and when I pulled in,too, it looked pretty close to the building and it could have been a structure fire,” fire chief Mark Penner said. “It was close to buildings, so without actually driving up in there, you would’ve thought there were structures on fire back there.”
Penner confirmed that there was a burn permit for the bonfire, and there was little else to do.
“We checked it out and I sent my guys home,” he said. “They were adamant about continuing to burn it.”
Penner said enough firefighters turned out to run three trucks if they had been needed.
Burn permits are issued by the city, Mayor Larry Larsen said, and in turn the city notifies county dispatchers, who broadcast the notice over fire department radios.
Larsen said the city is serious about people obtaining a permit before they burn. Firefighters will extinguish a blaze without one.
“You could be out in the back yard with your leaf pile and they’ll put it out because you don’t have a burn permit,” he said.
Penner said that he doesn’t worry about being called out to controlled burns. He said when people see a fire that raises concerns like this one did, they should call it in.
“Whether there’s a burn permit or not, we’re going to check it out,” Penner said.