Petrolia Facing Potential Lawsuit

The City of Petrolia could have a fight on its hands over controlled burns. Attorney Rick Bunch notified the City of Petrolia, the Petrolia Volunteer Fire Department and members of Petrolia Curb Appeal of his client's intent to file suit.

Fred Waggoner said he lost a lifetime of belongings last August when members of Petrolia Curb Appeal organized a series of controlled burns to rid the town of dilapidated structures. And, he said, he never authorized the destruction of his storage shed.

Jan Lott and Jena Fleming with Curb Appeal said they had the city's authorization to organize the burns. They enlisted the help of the Petrolia VFD to conduct them. Mayor Cindy Armour said the group acted on their own accord.

Minutes of the Petrolia City Council meeting from August 10, 2010 indicate the group announced their intentions to the city. Bunch said that means the group acted under the color of law. "The city knew what was happening and didn't intervene," he said.

Bunch said no one from the City, Curb Appeal or the Petrolia VFD have responded to his letters of intent. One attorney, who didn't indicate to Bunch who, if anyone, he would represent, did reply saying he would like more time to investigate the matter. Bunch said he hasn't filed suit yet.

Mayor Armour, Lott and Fleming have not returned calls to Newschannel 6 regarding Bunch's notification. Officials with City Hall said Trish Byars of Vernon is the Petrolia City Attorney. Calls to her office for comment have not been returned.

Tim Barnosky, Newschannel 6.