New Medford ordinance allows city to charge people for reckless burns

The Medford city council passed a new ordinance last Thursday, making it possible for the city to charge people for reckless grass fires.

City attorney Eric Mitton said there is already a state law that allows counties to prosecute for reckless burns.

Under that law, people can only be charged if the fire causes property damage.

However, Medford’s ordinance will also allow someone to be charged for any vegetation fire in public areas, whether it causes property damage or not.

Mitton said the new ordinance could bring some relief to the Jackson County District Attorney’s office.

“They’ve got a very full case load right now,” Mitton said. “And a lot of time with reckless burning it’s something more in a livability context with other low level misdemeanors. And so we felt it would make sense to also have the option to prosecute it through the municipal court.”

The Medford city council approved the ordinance unanimously last Thursday.

The city pointed toward the Bear Creek Greenway and public parks like Prescott {ark as areas of concerns when it comes to reckless burns.

The maximum penalty could be a misdemeanor charge with a $1,000 fine and up to six months in jail.

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NBC5 News reporter Zachary Larsen grew up in Surprise, Arizona. He graduated from Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism. At ASU, Zack interned at Arizona Sports 98.7FM and Softball America. During his Junior year, Zack joined the ASU Sports Bureau. He covered the Fiesta Bowl, the Phoenix Open and major basketball tournaments. Zack enjoys working out, creative writing, music, and rooting for his ASU Sun Devils.
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