UPDATE: Couple’s home destroyed during fire of tires, debris; fire contained

Published 4:46 pm Thursday, February 29, 2024

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NATCHEZ — A fire that threatened to spread to surrounding properties has been contained, Natchez fire officials said.

However, it is taking crews from four fire departments, two emergency management agencies, law enforcement officers from the county and city and the Adams County Road Department crews to keep it that way.

Firefighters and fire equipment from departments in Concordia Parish, Louisiana, and Franklin County have joined the Natchez Fire Department and Adams County Fire Service in battling a tire fire that sent bright orange flames and deep black smoke billowing from a property at 10 Ratliff Road in Natchez this morning after tires and other debris caught fire.

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All are still on the scene fighting the fire. Tire fires are notoriously difficult to extinguish.

Natchez Fire Chief Robert Arrington requested the use of drones late this afternoon to help determine where the fire is spreading.

Adams County Sheriff Travis Patten dispatched his department’s drone and also requested aid from the Natchez Police Department drone. Those have arrived on the scene.

The property is that of Johnny Delaughter, who operates a sort of junkyard on it. Delaughter also lived in a mobile home on the property, which has now burned to the ground.

“It is a complete loss. It does not exist any longer,” Patten said. Delaughter, his wife, and their dog were able to make it out of the mobile home and to safety. Officials have said no one was hurt in the fire.

Neighbors have petitioned the Adams County Board of Supervisors for several years to get Delaughter to clean up the property.

Supervisors have taken action several times to get Delaughter to hide the tires, car parts and other junk on his property with a fence and to clean it up.

While the fire has been contained, Patten said fire personnel and equipment are still on the scene working to keep the fire surrounded and away from neighboring property.

“It’s pretty bad out here,” Patten said. “You have Franklin County Fire Department out here and Concordia Parish Fire Department, Natchez Fire Department and Adams County Volunteer Fire Department. The Adams County Road Department is here on bulldozers, clearing a path where the fire is at so it doesn’t spread.

“Superintendent Warren Gaines is here. The Adams County Sheriff’s Department is here, Adams County Emergency Management and Franklin County Emergency Management are here and the Natchez Police Department is here. It’s taken all hands on deck to contain this thing,” the sheriff said.

He said the winds picked up while firefighters were battling the fire and the drones are being used to make certain it has not spread to any area fighters cannot readily see.

“We even have neighbors out here on tractors clearing debris to keep the fire away,” Patten said.

Firefighters are still actively fighting the fire. An investigation into what caused the fire will follow.

“It will turn into a fire investigation to determine the cause of the fire and whether anyone will face charges,” the sheriff said.