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Man Tries to Burn American Flag Blanket, Starts 5-Acre Wildfire

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Authorities in Washington state are investigating a wildfire that apparently grew from a suspect’s attempt at a political statement.

According to KIRO, Grant County Fire District 13 responded to the fire call in Ephrata at around 6 p.m. on Sunday.

Investigators say the source of blaze, which scorched five acres, is believed to be a blanket with an American flag design that was set on fire in the field near Ephrata Airport.

Emergency personnel were reportedly able to contain and extinguish the fire before it threatened any structures. There were no reported injuries associated with the incident.

Nevertheless, local authorities are treating the investigation seriously, as indicated in a Facebook post by the county’s fire agency.

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MAN BURNING AMERICAN FLAG BLANKET STARTS WILDFIRE: We assisted Your Ephrata Firefighters yesterday about 6PM near the…

Posted by Grant County Fire District 13 on Monday, May 28, 2018

“We assisted Your Ephrata Firefighters yesterday about 6PM near the airport for a 5 acre fire,” the Grant County Fire District reported. “The fire ignited after a man tried to burn an American flag blanket which then spread to wildland.”

The social media post included several images of the responding firefighters and equipment on hand to battle the blaze.

Four county units arrived on the scene to assist city firefighters, the department said.

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Officials shared a message for the culprit and anyone else considering such a potentially dangerous form of expression.

“No matter your political views, we think it’s safe to say we can all agree starting a wildfire is no good!” the agency wrote. “Ephrata Police are investigating.”

Police did not immediately release information about the individual suspected of starting the fire, as reported by Newsweek.

It was not clear from available reports whether authorities were expected to pursue charges against anyone in connection with the incident.

Despite the extensive amount of scorched earth, local emergency officials expressed relief that weather and other conditions did not exacerbate the situation.

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“Any sort of wind and that would’ve been a totally different story,” Fire District 13 spokesperson Isaac Merkl said.

As it is, he explained that most of the damage was contained to burned sage brush. He said the widely shared Facebook post was the agency’s effort to drive home the point that fires can easily grow out of control.

Through social media, Merkl said firefighters wanted to “get in front of people’s face” with the message that “anything can start a fire.”

Most of the Facebook responses echoed the agency’s take on the culprit’s dangerous act.

Many commenters focused on the potential of injury or property damage in calling for a harsh punishment. Others cited the apparent effort to burn a representation of the American flag.

Suggested punishments ranged from a fine to cover the cost of cleanup to deportation.

“He could also be sent to Saudi Arabia if he dislikes trees and US politics,” one Facebook user recommended.

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Chris Agee is an American journalist with more than 15 years of experience in a wide range of newsrooms.
Chris Agee is an American journalist with more than 15 years of experience in a variety of newsroom settings. After covering crime and other beats for newspapers and radio stations across the U.S., he served as managing editor at Western Journalism until 2017. He has also been a regular guest and guest host on several syndicated radio programs. He lives in Phoenix, Arizona, with his wife and son.
Birthplace
Virginia
Nationality
American
Honors/Awards
Texas Press Association, Best News Writing - 2012
Education
Bachelor of Arts, Journalism - Averett University
Professional Memberships
Online News Association
Location
Arizona
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Entertainment




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