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Sat., Apr. 19
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Serving the communities of Massena and Potsdam, New York
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Potsdam senior charged with burn ban violation for torching outbuilding

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POTSDAM — A 92-year-old Potsdam man said that, after several failed attempts to get help from firemen, he decided to take matters into his own hands.

Donald R. Jackman, 420 Route 11B, set an abandoned house on fire.

Potsdam Fire Department Third Assistant Fire Chief John Keleher said Mr. Jackman was not happy when firefighters tried to put out the fire, but with a burn ban in effect until May 15, Mr. Jackman will now face a fine for violating the ban.

“Hell, it’s my land,” Mr. Jackman said. “It seemed like a good idea to take advantage of 3 inches of snow.”

Despite firefighters’ attempts, “enough of it burned, I can get it out of there,” according to Mr. Jackman, who now plans to bulldoze what remains of the structure. “I want to make the place look better.”

Mr. Keleher said the building was not insured and has no value.

Firefighters from Potsdam and West Stockholm responded to the call at 10:28 a.m. Favorable winds blew the smoke and fire away from Mr. Jackman’s machine shop. No injuries were reported from the incident.

“I’m hoping this is just a small fine, but we’ll see,” Mr. Jackman said.

He said sheriff’s deputies also seized five guns, valued at about $2,000, from his property. Mr. Jackman said the deputies didn’t believe he was allowed to own guns.

In July 2010, as part of a plea deal with prosecutors, Mr. Jackman was ordered to no longer possess firearms. He was charged with fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon and a Canton judge adjourned the case in contemplation of dismissal.

St. Lawrence County Sheriff’ s Department deputies charged Jackman following a request for assistance from the Potsdam Fire Department. Deputies said Jackman attempted to prevent fire officials from extinguishing the fire.

While investigating the open burn violation, deputies said they located four rifles and a shotgun in the residence. Jackman is prohibited from possessing weapons due to a prior conviction, police Jackman was charged with misdemeanor counts of fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon and unlawful open burn. He was issued appearance tickets for May 3 in Potsdam Town Court.

Photographer Jason Hunter contributed to this report.

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