BRACEVILLE - When the sun hits Kelly Moore's home from the right angle, bumps and waves can be seen in its white vinyl siding. The problem began when the fire department performed a controlled burn on an old church across the street.
But according to law, they cannot be held liable for the damage.
On Aug. 10, Moore recalled standing outside her home with neighbors and the pastor from Braceville Christian Church, who had donated the old building in front of their new one on Church Street to the fire department.
When the pastor noticed it getting overwhelmingly hot, he pointed it out to the assistant fire chief standing nearby.
"He took off his glove and felt the house. Then he said, 'Close your windows. We gotta get your house sprayed off immediately,'" Moore said. "As soon as the water hit the house it just started bubbling."
Special to the Tribune Chronicle / Kelly Moore
Firefighters spray water on the old Braceville Christian Church, which was was burned Aug. 10 in a training exercise.
According to Braceville Fire Chief Todd Garland, the bubbling is a normal reaction and doesn't take too much heat to cause.
"It's vinyl siding - anytime it's close enough to a fire, it will make little bubbles. It could be a bonfire or even just a hot day," he said.
Taking care of surrounding houses is "all part of training" during a controlled burn, Garland said.
If this is the case, though, Moore said she would have like to have seen her house protected while the firefighters were posing for photos with the burning church.
Garland said the issue was turned over to the township's insurance company and that he thought the matter was taken care of from there. Trustee Chairman Todd Brewster echoed Garland's response, but said he has yet to read insurance company's response.
Moore said she did receive a letter from the township's insurance that cited the Ohio Revised Code in determining the township and fire department would not be held responsible for fixing her damaged siding.
Section 2744.02 of the ORC releases political subdivisions, such as a fire department, from liability for damages caused by their functions:
"...a political subdivision is not liable in damages in a civil action for injury, death, or loss to person or property allegedly caused by any act or omission of the political subdivision or an employee of the political subdivision in connection with a governmental or proprietary function."
It does cite some instances in which the subdivision and its employees are held liable, but most refer to motor vehicle accidents, negligence by hospitals and utility systems, and improperly maintained roads. Control burn damages aren't among the exceptions listed.
Moore said she was given the option to file a lawsuit, but said the expense would be overwhelming. She also said at one point the church looked into if their insurance would cover the repairs.
As of yet though she said, neither she nor the township nor the church want to put a mark on their insurance, so the problem is unresolved.
"Nobody seems to want to pay for it," she said.