A Town of Saukville man is facing felony charges for refusing to put out his cigarette after firefighters came to his home and found it full of natural gas.
Lawrence E. Piper, 31, was charged in Ozaukee County Circuit Court Tuesday with one count of second-degree reckless endangerment of safety and one count of negligent handling of burning materials. If convicted, he faces up to nearly 11 years in prison and $35,000 in fines.
According to the criminal complaint:
On Sept. 28, Saukville firefighters were called to the 2800 block of South Riverside Drive for a gas leak. Firefighters arrived at the scene and first had issues with getting equipment down a one-third mile driveway, then more safety concerns were raised when an explosives meter showed a high saturation of gas on the property.
Firefighters got to the home and saw Piper smoking a cigarette near an open door to the home. He was told three times by officials to put it out, but he refused and walked away.
A woman at the property said Piper “didn’t want to waste a cigarette.”
The complaint states the explosives meter showed 100 percent gas saturation within the home. Anything more than 2 percent saturation is considered in the explosive range, in which simply turning on a light switch can ignite an explosion.
Piper will make his initial appearance in court Dec. 19.