Firefighters let man’s house burn to ground because he forgot to pay their fee

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When Obion County resident Gene Cranick’s house caught fire he did what most people would do, he called the fire department. Unfortunately for him, he had not paid his annual $75, so they were not obligated to protect his home.

Had Cranick lived a short distance away in South Fulton, the protection fee would have been included in his local taxes, but because his part of Obion County wasn’t part of South Fulton, the fee was collected separately. Cranick says that he forgot to pay, he had paid in previous years and this time it slipped his mind. Details are sketchy but according to witness reports, a fire crew turned up at the scene but firefighters did nothing to stop the fire until it threatened to spread to a neighboring property. While his house was burning to the ground Cranick offered them anything to save his house, but they refused.

Now Gene is without a home and his son has gained an assault charge for attacking the fire chief – whom I’m assuming didn’t need to remember to pay his police bill because he came from the right side of the municipal border.

I know that if people don’t have to pay for essential services they probably won’t – but there are times that you have to forget about money and remember that you are human. There are better ways to make a point than letting all of a family’s Earthly possessions go up in flames. This sort of callous disregard for another person is beyond shameful, it should be criminal. [ZDNet]


C.S. Magor is the editor-in-chief and a reporter at large for We Interrupt and Uberreview. He currently resides in the Japanese countryside approximately two hours from Tokyo - where he has spent the better part of a decade testing his hypothesis that Japan is neither as quirky nor as interesting as others would have you believe.
2 Comments on this post.
  • Concerned
    13 October 2010 at 8:08 pm
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    For additional information on the FACTS behind the situation in Obion County that has resulted in homes burning to the ground, and to help stop it from happening again, please see:

    • Anonymous
      14 October 2010 at 2:29 am
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      The Obion Fire Blogspot page ( ) above provides some interesting reading on the background to this situation… but make no mistake – it is background information, not the facts of the case. The fact is that a house burned down and 4 pets died while fire fighters watched – because he hadn’t paid a $75 bill. But it doesn’t change the facts of the case. Have we sunk so low that we won’t help a neighbor put out a fire because he/she forgot to pay a bill? What if they can’t afford the bill? Just because someone is not legally obligated to do something does not mean that they are not morally obligated to do so.If you have a firetruck full of water and you instruct your firefighters to let a house burn down – you are an ass. For whatever reason, Cranick hadn’t paid his bill, and that is stupid and irresponsible – but it is the lesser of two evils here. If the truck was there they should have fought the fire.

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