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Hogansburg grass fire deemed suspicious, came close to 3 homes

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HOGANSBURG — A Wednesday fire that came close to three Raquette Point Road dwellings is considered suspicious in origin, but neither the Franklin County Cause and Origin Team nor St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Police are 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 Thursday, adding that he believes the person who started the blaze had malicious intent but was not trying to burn down a house.

He also said 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. Matthew Rourke of the tribal police said that, had the fire reached the dwellings, it would have been investigated as a crime.

As it stands, it’s a state burn ban compliance issue, Mr. Rourke said, adding that tribal police will enforce state and county burn bans, as well as make efforts to educate the community. He said anyone on the reservation who needs a burning permit can call the tribal Environment Division at 518-358-5937.

Wednesday’s fire scorched about five acres, Mr. Comins said. He added that about 20 firefighters responded shortly before 6 p.m. and worked for about 45 minutes before returning briefly about 8 p.m. to quell a rekindling of the blaze.

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