Rossville public safety director Sid Adams, who also serves as the city’s police chief, counters that Coffey has his facts completely wrong.
The fire broke out June 8 at Rossville Metals Recycling, a business on the mill property. The mill itself was shut down many years ago.
Coffey said employees were working on a vehicle with a blowtorch, which caused a propane tank to explode and ignited vehicle gas tanks.
Coffey claims it took the fire department, which is near the mill property, about 14 minutes to arrive after the blaze was reported.
Coffey, who was not at the mill at the time of the fire, said an eyewitness told him about the time delay.
“People have to come to their own conclusion as to why it took them that long to get there,” Coffey said.
“I refuse to express my own personal opinions,” he added.
Coffey said there was no water available for employees to put out the fire. “Someone had intentionally turned the water off to the fire hydrant,” Coffey said.
Once the employees realized there was no water, they called the fire department, Coffey said.
Coffey said he was told the fire department took “14-some-odd minutes to arrive” after the fire was called in. Additional fire trucks took another “10 minutes to arrive,” he said. Another 20-30 minutes elapsed before water ar-rived, he said.
Public safety director Adams said Coffey is seriously misinformed. He said the fire call came into dispatch at 2:33 p.m. and a fire truck was sent at 2:34 p.m. A fire truck arrived on the scene at 2:38 p.m. with 750 gallons of water, he said. Two more fire trucks were sent to the scene, as well as a ladder truck, he said.
The second truck laid a line to pump water from Williams Street, near the old Rossville High School, to the mill to have an additional water.
Coffey and the city of Rossville have been at odds for the past few years regarding the mill property, including ownership of sewerage lines.
Coffey filed a lawsuit, claiming he owned the lines and the city owed him $985,000 for using them. Coffey was ar-rested on Feb. 16 when he threatened to pour concrete in the lines to block usage. In March, a federal judge ruled in the city’s favor.
When police issued an arrest warrant on May 26, Coffey fled, according to an incident report. As of June 15, the warrant is outstanding.