Friday, July 06, 2012

TOP STORY >> Fireworks follies end in arrests

Leader staff writer

A ban on fireworks in Lonoke County except for controlled displays inside some cities did not stop three young adults from allegedly shooting fireworks from their four-wheelers in a dry field on West Mountain Springs Road near Cabot on the Fourth of July.

The fire burned the field, a mobile home, a pole barn and an SUV, and another mobile home was damaged.

An elderly woman lived in the destroyed mobile home at 1667 W. Mountain Springs Road, which belonged to Ward Police Chief Steve Benton, sources in Ward said.

Since the fire started in the field, the woman was able to get away from her home before it burned, said Lt. Jim Kulesa of the Lonoke County Sheriff’s Office.

Sgt. Brad Lamb of the Arkansas State Police was among those who responded to the fire, which was called in at 3:35 p.m. Kulesa said Lamb arrested 24-year-old Matthew Mayfield, 23-year-old Katlynn Mayfield and 21-year-old Samantha Ashley Mayfield.

The three were arrested on felony criminal mischief charges and taken to the county jail where they were released on bonds of $2,500 each.

In addition to the Mountain Springs Volunteer Fire Department, fire departments from Cabot, Ward, Austin and Butlerville responded to the call.

One resident whose home was saved posted this “thank you” on the Cabot Fire Department website: “Because you responded and acted so quickly, the fire was contained and my house was saved. If the fire would have reached the pine trees, we would have lost our house. I just wanted to let you know how much we appreciate what you did for my family. You gave up your holiday and risked your life out in this extreme heat to save our lives and home. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

Kulesa said the sheriff’s department was still getting calls on Friday about county residents disregarding the ban. He said he wondered why the sale of fireworks had not also been banned.

Mark Smart, assistant chief for the Cabot Fire Department, said Cabot had no fires inside city limits related to fireworks.

Eddie Cook, director of operations for the city, said that in addition to wetting the area around the city fireworks display, spotters were posted to ensure that no embers went unnoticed.

Jacksonville Mayor Gary Fletcher said the city issued five citations to people who shot off fireworks.