Sparks of love may be behind old wildlife office smoke scare

Published 8:42 pm Monday, February 15, 2010

Where there’s smoke, there’s usually fire, but Saturday night itappeared to be just the spark of eternal love from a wedding partythat called out the Brookhaven Fire Department to the embattledformer Wildlife, Game and Fisheries Building.

The building has been embroiled in controversy as the Board ofSupervisors told the Department of Wildlife, Game and Fisheries inmid-2009 that they would need to relocate because the county wantedto use the building for the Tax Collector/Tax Assessor’soffice.

There was almost a new twist in the plot Saturday around 7 p.m.when firefighters responded to reports of smoke at the building,but Fire Chief Tony Weeks said there was actually no fire.

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“It was nothing to it,” said Weeks. “There was actually no smokecoming out of the building. We got in there and checked, and stayedat least an hour checking. There was nothing in there.”

But there was a blanket of smoke that hung in the air over thearea. Weeks said the smoke was more than likely from a celebrationtaking place at the St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church receptionhall.

“There was a wedding at the church next door, and the report wasthat they had lit some sparkers. I don’t know how many, it musthave been a lot,” he said. “That smoke just hung in the air overthere.”

Weeks said the caller who reported the fire had undoubtedly smelledthe smoke in the air, but that possibly steam coming from thebuilding had been misleading as well.

“They could have seen the heat exhaust because the heating unit wason inside,” he said. “But there was nothing in the building. Itmust have been from the wedding party.”

Supervisors voted not to renew MDWF&P’s lease on the buildingin January 2009, stating they would use the space for the taxoffice, which they said has outgrown its previous location in thecourthouse. The move caused quite a stir, and over the summersupervisors took heavy fire from the public over the move and somefailed negotiations to keep the state office in Brookhaven.

The District Five headquarters reopened in Magnolia in earlyOctober.