Debris Fire Charges - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Debris Fire Charges

BENTON CO., Wash. - A fire just outside West Richland continues to smolder Wednesday night. Neighbors have complained about the smoke, but fire fighters won't put it out. And now the Benton Clean Air Authority is fining the property owner for thousands of dollars.

The violations the Benton Clean Air Authority is citing here is pretty complicated mess.

An Authority spokesperson said Joanne Ryan owns the land where the debris fire started Friday. The spokesperson said Ryan illegally allowed people to dump debris that is the fuel for the flames, she also is causing unlawful air pollution, allowing a fire that is a nuisance to others, and is responsible for allowing a fire to burn during a burn ban.

"The Clean Air Act is a strict liability statute and what that means is that if you own the property you're responsible for what happens on that property. As soon as you're made aware of it you're responsible for what happens on that property," said Terry Flores, Benton Clean Air Authority.   

Ryan faces fines of $3,000 a day if she does not comply with authority requirements.

Fire fighters said they won't extinguish the fire because they don't want to send hot embers air born. Flores said the difference between Ryan and the victim of an accidental fire is Ryan has had experience with fire on her property in the past.

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