Photo via Kaukauna Community News Facebook group

KAUKAUNA — The city of Kaukauna is considering changes to its controlled burn practices following an incident in May where a burn on an empty lot went out of control and melted a neighbors’ siding.

In a statement to Kaukauna Community News, the city said staff has developed several recommendations to address the necessary vegetation control and eliminate risk of heat damage to any adjacent structures. 

(READ CONTINUING COVERAGE HERE)

“As the alternative vegetation control procedures will require budgetary approvals, those recommendations will need to be brought to the Common Council for final approval,” read the statement. (Full statement below)

The empty lot at 3413 Fieldcrest that was the subject of the controlled burn in May is adjacent to Jonen Park in the city’s south side.

Jaime and Dave Schmitt, who own property to the south of the lot, said a burn of brush May 10 by the city got out of control and melted the siding on one side of their house.

The mayor offered a public apology and sent the claim to the its insurance company.

However the insurance company said it would only replace the side that was damaged. The Schmitt’s problem is that the siding color is no longer available, which would lead to mismatched siding on her home.

The Schmitt’s say they were able to get a quote of $15,000 to re-side the whole house, but the insurance company is only offering $3,900.

After a one-hour closed session meeting June 20, the city issued a statement saying the claim remains with the liability insurer.

The Schmitt’s have now hired an attorney.

There were concerns over controlled burns in the empty lot long before this year’s mishap.

In a post in 2022 the Kaukauna Community News Facebook group, the owner of the property to the north wrote in part, “Only my second spring in Kaukauna. Wondering why this happens? The tall grass against the side of my home gets cut down, then they burn it down. And after it burns, it spreads closer to the house.”

Read the full statement from the city of Kaukauna here:

With regard to controlled burn practices and alternative means of controlling vegetation in the required wetland area, city staff has developed several recommendations to address the necessary vegetation control and eliminate risk of heat damage to any adjacent structures. As the alternative vegetation control procedures will require budgetary approvals, those recommendations will need to be brought to the Common Council for final approval.



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By Dan Plutchak

Dan Plutchak, born and raised in Kaukauna, is cofounder of Kaukauna Community News.