Fire Marshall James Barber conducted the investigation.
Huff lost a collection of Texaco signs, three antique boats, and a travel trailer.
photo by Hawes Spencer
It's been a tough time for Alex Toomy. Last year, he moved out
of the 7,000-square-foot house he built on 106 acres and lost, via
the adjacent Ragged Mountain subdivision he'd developed. Asked by
the new owners to clean up the lots in preparation for the spring
selling season, he'd been conducting some outdoor brush burns.
Now he stands accused of starting, perhaps accidentally,
one of the larger fires in recent history, a multi-day wildfire
that scorched 800 acres, consumed a barn, and put as many as 40
houses at risk.
He's living on-site in a tenant house, and the new owners have
tapped his ex-wife as listing agent for the now-blackened rolling
"We could easily have another Ragged Mountain fire," said
Albemarle Fire Chief Dan Eggleston, in announcing the two
misdemeanor charges against Toomy at a Tuesday morning press
If convicted, Toomy faces up to $750 in fines– $500 for breaking
the state's springtime ban on pre-4pm burning and $250 for
conducting a careless fire.
"I'm delighted that somebody's held responsible," says neighbor
Rip Thomsen of the adjacent Colston subdivision. "I can't say that
750 dollars is a major fine. It should be more for that kind of
The larger issue, some neighbors s...