Dad in big trouble after model rocket sparks park fire

by: Tony Thomas Updated:

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GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. —

A 42-year-old man faces charges after allegedly igniting a fire in a Gwinnett County Park by shooting off a model rocket.

Ted Scartz was arrested for allegedly violating the county's ordinance, which restricts patrons from igniting fireworks and rockets in the park, Channel 2's Tony Thomas said.

The flames burned about five acres in Alexander Park just outside of Lawrenceville Saturday evening. Scartz's two children were with him at the time of the fire.

"You get a small fire in dry grass and it just takes off on you," said Gwinnett County Fire Capt. Eric Eberly. "Of all days, one of the hottest days of the year, we really don't need to be shooting stuff off with sparks and embers."

As the fire burned, Jane Alexander stood across the road watching the flames burn what used to be her land. She said at first the flames were small and only burning along a fenceline between the park and a church.

"When I looked out again probably an hour later, they were watering it down,"Alexander said.

Firefighters say no one was injured. The man and kids were able to run away from the flames.

Firefighters battled temperatures hovering near 100 degrees at the time, but rotated in and out of the fireline to keep from suffering heat exhaustion.

"Our firefighting gear helps keeps the heat from burning us, but it also keeps all the heat that we work up from energy from getting out," Eberly said.

An arson investigator was called to the scene, and Eberly said the man could face additional charges.