VIGO COUNTY, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) – Sugar Creek Fire Chief Darrick Scott is speaking out after his crews battle another large brush fire that started a little before 11:00 PM Monday night on U.S. 40 in Western Vigo County.
“Approximately a year and a half ago, July of 2022, we fought this problem,” Scott said.
That problem, Scott said, is in regards to a commercial business disposing of bi-products.
“Instead of taking his bi-products to the landfill, he’s dumping it on his private property. It’s filling up; he has no place to dump it; it mysteriously catches on fire. Not blaming anyone,” Scott said. “I have no idea; it sure wasn’t a lightning strike, but it mysteriously caught fire last night,” he added.
Chief Scott said that following the July 2022 fire on the same property, he contacted county leaders and the Indiana Department of Emergency Management (IDEM) regarding his concerns.
Scott felt like he wasn’t being heard. “It’s very frustrating, especially when we saw it coming. All the entities were notified that this was going to happen again, and here we are. It’s not fair to the taxpayers; it’s not fair to my troops,” Scott said.
Chief Scott said the fire from July of 2022 was costly for the taxpayers. “We had fuel bills in the thousands of dollars,” he said
“I don’t want to spend my money redoing the same thing. Things happen. There are acts of God; there’s lightning that starts fires that they have to deal with. This is not that,” Mike Tewell, a neighbor to the property, said.
Monday’s fire started just a quarter mile west on U.S. 40 from the previous fire.
“Our problem is just like last night; we had almost every county tanker in Vigo County here. So, that puts a lot of other people in danger,” Chief Scott said. “So, yeah, I’m very frustrated with the system. I think the system’s broken. I think we know there’s a problem out here with a business that’s dumping bi-products, and I can’t get any help, and I’m frustrated, very frustrated. And I feel sorry for our troops.”
Residents in the area agree with Scott’s frustrations.
Tewell is hopeful that leaders will make a change. “I am truly hopeful that this will be heard because this is repeating,” he said. “It’s not a once, it’s not a twice, it’s half a dozen times now that I’ve witnessed it. I’m hoping that those who can hear that as a request. An opportunity to listen, to see what’s going on around us and help us out.”
Those voices were heard Tuesday morning. Vigo County Commissioner Chris Switzer met with Chief Scott. They checked out the ongoing fire together.
“It’s incredibly frustrating,” Switzer said. “I’ve received several messages this morning from nearby landowners, wanting to know what the heck they can do to get this solution resolved.”
Switzer said some of the property is zone agricultural, some residential. Going forward, Switzer said residents in the area can be assured that commissioners are working with Chief Scott. They are looking into ordinances and zoning issues surrounding the property. They plan to address concerns in front of the Board of Zoning Appeals and the Area Plan Department.
WTWO reached out to the owner of the property and business by phone. He said he did not wish to comment at this time.
Chief Scott says the fire remains under investigation.