Hardin firefighters responded to a house fire on the 2000 block of SH 105 East in Moss Hill on Monday and then returned to the property again on Tuesday when the fire was reignited.
According to Liberty County Fire Marshal Bill Hergemueller, the home was unoccupied at the time with a family member of the owner living in a travel trailer behind the house. The house reportedly was uninsured and located on a lot that had recently been cleared of trees and debris. There was no electricity connected to the house, so the fire marshal will be looking into whether or not the fire was intentionally set as a means to remove the old structure.
“The fire today started on the opposite side of where the fire started yesterday. Yesterday firefighters were able to put out the fire. Today, it burned to the ground,” Hergemueller said on Tuesday. “We are still investigating.”
If it is determined that the fire was deliberately set, the owner could face fines as it is illegal to intentionally set fire to an old home, even if it is unoccupied and uninsured, the fire marshal said.
“It’s an acceptable practice to burn brush and wood but if someone is tearing down an old house, there are certain codes that must be followed. They most likely will have to tear it down and haul it away to a landfill. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has rules about outdoor burning and the Local Government Code protects the folks who live around the home,” Hergemueller said. “House fires create a lot of toxic smoke caused by the plastics and other types of household items.”
If anyone is considering burning an old house or building, and hopes to avoid being fined, Hergemueller said it is a good practice to consult with him or someone else at the fire marshal’s office first.
“Let us give you guidance on what is allowed,” he said.
To contact the fire marshal’s office, call 936-641-7935.
Responding to the fires were ESD 7 (Hardin Fire and Rescue), Saratoga VFD, and Liberty Fire Department and South Polk County VFD.