SOUTH FULTON, Tenn., Oct. 6 (UPI) -- A house in Tennessee was allowed to burn to the ground because its owner did not pay a $75 fire service fee, the homeowner said.
Gene Cranick of Obion County and his family lost all of their possessions, along with three dogs and a cat, he told MSNBC's Keith Olbermann.
The fire started Sept. 29 when the Cranicks' grandson was burning trash. As it spread, they called 911, but the fire department from nearby South Fulton would not respond because Cranick, who lives outside the city limits, had "forgotten" to pay the annual $75 fire service fee, he said. The county does not have its own firefighting service, but South Fulton offers fire coverage to rural residents for the fee.
Cranick says he told the operator he would pay whatever is necessary to have the fire put out. His offer wasn't accepted, he said.
Firefighters did eventually show up, but only to fight the fire on the neighboring property, whose owner had paid.
South Fulton Mayor David Crocker said the fire department cannot let homeowners pay the fee on the spot, because the only people who would pay would be those whose homes are on fire.