The Chapel Hill Volunteer Fire Department was called to Truck and Kar Auto Parts on County Road 2762 at 6:50 p.m., Connie Wasson, assistant fire marshal for Smith County, said. She said the caller reported thick smoke and visible flames coming from behind the building. The store has a Tyler address on its building of 3515 East Erwin St.
She said a grass fire appears to have started from a burning pit on the property next to the store. When crews arrived, two or three cars were on fire, and a total of 10 were lost before it could be fully extinguished.
“We are still trying to locate the person that started the fire to be issued a citation for reckless destruction of property.” Mrs. Wasson said.
The citation would be a class C misdemeanor, but they also could have to pay restitution to the owner for the loss of property, she said.
Wasson said according to state law, residents can not burn if the wind is more than 23 mph, and they must ask permission from their neighbors who live within 300 feet. If they have a respiratory condition or refuse to allow the smoke, she said the fire department can put out the flames.
“We just ask everyone to be responsible don’t do any outdoor burning if the winds are high and of course don’t go off and leave it,” she said. Always have a water source there.”
Chapel Hill, Winona, Jackson Heights, Whitehouse volunteer departments also responded to the scene.