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Wildfire on Racquette Point considered suspicious

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AKWESASNE - A Wednesday wildfire that came close to three Racquette Point Road dwellings is considered suspicious in origin, but neither the Franklin County Cause and Origin Team or St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Police are not investigating it as a crime because it did not damage any property.

“We had three families that could have been homeless because somebody decided to start a grass fire,” Hogansburg/Akwesasne Fire Chief Derek Comins said on Thursday.

He added he believes the person who started the blaze had malicious intent, but was not intentionally trying to burn down a home. He also stated that the flames were within 30 yards of the structures, which had to be evacuated. The residents were able to return home the same night, Mr. Comins said.

Detective Sgt. Matt Rourke of Tribal PD said had the fire reached the dwellings they would have investigated the damage as a criminal offense.

“As it stands, it’s a (state burn ban) compliance issue,” Det. Sgt. Rourke said, adding that tribal police will enforce state and county burn bans, as well as make efforts to educate the community on their responsibilities when choosing to burn.

He said anyone in Akwesasne who needs a burning permit can contact the Environment Divison at (518)358-5937.

Mr. Comins said Wednesday’s fire scorched roughly five acres. He said 20 firefighters were on-scene at the fire for about 45 minutes starting shortly before 6 p.m. and then returned around 8 p.m. to quell a rekindle.

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