A Tennessee homeowner said firefighters refused to put out a blaze at her house because her family failed to pay a $75 fee, KFVS-TV reported Tuesday.
Homeowner Paulette Cranick, who lives in a rural area outside the city limits of South Fulton, Tenn., told the local station that her house caught fire Wednesday after her son was burning papers in a barrel on the property.
"I called 911," Cranick said. "They said, 'We're trying to get [the fire department] out there but they're not cooperating,' or words to that effect."
Cranick admitted that she and her husband Gene failed to pay the South Fulton fire department the annual $75 fee for rural fire coverage, but said it was an oversight.
"I've paid it many, many times - I just haven't gotten around to it [this year]," she said, adding that in the past the city's firefighters had come to the rescue of rural families who had also failed to pay the fee.
A passerby and several neighbors helped douse the flames with a water hose, and firefighters finally arrived on the scene when the blaze had spread to the property of a neighbor who had paid the fee, Cranick told the station.
After losing her home, three dogs, and one cat in the fire, Cranick said, "I guess they have to let a house burn once in awhile to teach us a lesson."