Wis. woman fined for interfering in firefighter operation during gas leak

Sara A. Gordon, 42, pleaded no contest to the lesser charge of resisting or obstructing an officer, instead of the original two felony charges

Chris Vetter
The Leader-Telegram, Eau Claire, Wis.

CHIPPEWA FALLS, Wis. — A Boyd woman who was charged with interfering while firefighters were handling a gas leak situation in September 2018 has been ordered to pay $991 in court costs and fines.

Sara A. Gordon, 42, 129 N. Jackson St., pleaded no contest in Chippewa County Court to resisting or obstructing an officer. She was originally charged with intentional obstruction of emergency or rescue persons and second-degree recklessly endangering safety, which are both felonies.

The state agreed to amend the three counts to civil ordinance violations as part of a plea agreement. Judge Ben Lane found her guilty of the three counts, and he ordered Gordon to set up a payment plan within the next 30 days.

Ron Patten, Chippewa County coroner and Boyd-Edson-Delmar fire chief, requested the felony charges be filed against Gordon.

The gas leak had occurred Sept. 11, 2018, at 525 Murray St. in Boyd, and firefighters had set up a command center at the corner of Murray and Jackson streets.

"A lady, identified as Sara Gordon by bystanders, stormed in," Patten wrote in his letter to the court. "She was extremely angry. We were at a point with this incident that was very critical to the safety of everyone. We had limited personnel for fire suppression at the scene as most fire personnel and county sheriffs deputies were evacuating residents."

Patten was the on-site command operator. WE Energies had informed Patten that if there was an explosion, at least one city block would be severely affected, and fire damage would occur even farther out.

"I ordered her to leave the area as she was within what we considered to be the hot zone area," Patten wrote. "She refused to leave and continued to scream at me. Sara told me that we were responsible for her only getting two hours of sleep and she had just worked 12 hours. I informed her that it did not matter, and that we were only trying to protect her and her family. At, that point, she became more belligerent. I then informed her that she would be arrested if she did not leave the scene immediately."

Patten included the statutes for which Gordon could be charged with interfering in the operation.

"Many lives were at stake and could have easily been lost due to her gross misconduct," Patten wrote. "I was taken away from managing a very dangerous situation for approximately 10 minutes due to Sara Gordon's attitude towards the fire department."


(c)2021 the Leader-Telegram (Eau Claire, Wis.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service
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