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Grass fire leads to criminal charges against Chatfield woman

By Janice Gregorson

Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN

A rural Chatfield woman faces criminal charges after her efforts to burn brush in a pasture got out of control and had to be put out by firefighters.

Teresa Gail Thomas, 40, is charged with burning without a permit and negligent fires and is to appear in Olmsted District Court on April 30 on the misdemeanor charges.

Thomas owns property in Orion Township in Olmsted County and about 2:45 p.m. on April 4, she started burning bushes in a pasture with long grass behind her residence so she could put horses in the pasture, according to the sheriff’s department report. She had a fire extinguisher and a 3-gallon bucket of water with her, deputies said.

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The fire got out of control and she tried to put it out with the water and fire extinguisher but couldn’t. She called 911, and the Chatfield Fire Department worked for 1 1/2 hours to put out the fire, which ended up burning about five acres. Deputies said the burned acres were in a pasture on Thomas’ property but that grass and a pile of discarded items on a neighbor’s property also burned.

Thomas told deputies she didn’t have a burning permit and wasn’t aware she needed one.

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