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Wildfire leads to arson arrest

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082522 fire arrestA fire that hopped property lines and destroyed this outbuilding resulted in the arrest of a resident of The Woodlands on a charge of arson. Courtesy photo

By Tony Farkas
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TRINITY — A resident of The Woodlands faces felony arson charges for a fire that damaged structures on Brown Lane near Westwood Shores on Aug. 16.

Jerome Bernard Toenjes, 67, is facing a charge of arson of a building recklessly damaging a building belonging to another.

Sheriff Woody Wallace said the suspect was burning logs and limbs on his property, and the fire jumped property lines burning a neighbor’s buildings.

According to reports, Deputy J. Scott Moore was dispatched to Brown Lane in the Westwood Shores neighborhood where Trinity and 356 fire departments were battling a large brush fire.

Moore said in the report that several acres were on fire with multiple fire units working. One structure, owned by Leroy Brown, was completely burned.

The structure was a wood-framed shop/storage building detached from the main residence; however, Moore was shown a burn pile of several large logs and fence posts on the nearby property at 126 Brown Lane.

Moore said it appeared to have been burning for an extended period of time.

According to fire department personnel on the scene, it appeared that the burn pile had gotten out of control, igniting dry vegetation nearby. This caused the fire to rapidly spread, cross property lines onto Mr. Brown’s property, damaging the building.

Moore said he located Toenjes, who said that he had been burning the pile “a couple of weeks ago” but denied lighting the fire on Aug. 16. Since the burn ban has been in place for several weeks, Toenjes was arrested.

“The man has been arrested and is now facing felony charges for ignoring the burn ban and recklessly causing destruction,” Wallace said.

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