City of Jerome to woman after $96K bill for fire: It was a mistake

City of Jerome to woman after $96K bill for fire: It was a mistake
This fire in downtown Jerome destroyed nine apartments displacing about 50 people. The fire started after a woman left a hot glue gun on a plastic chair.

JEROME, Idaho (KBOI) - The city of Jerome said Thursday a $96,000 bill addressed to a property manager of an apartment complex after a large fire ripped through the building earlier this month was a mistake.

Sylvia Moore told KBOI-TV that she received the bill May 18 from the Jerome Fire Department.

She couldn't believe what the city had sent.

"I got this bill that's just amazing and to add insult to injury, if it isn't paid in 30 days they're going to charge me a 20 percent penalty," Moore said.

With a nearly $100,000 bill, a 20 percent penalty comes out to roughly $20,000. The city said Moore had until June 21 to pay the bill.

But as it turns out, the city of Jerome says, Moore never should have received the invoice - although an email and invoice was directed to her specifically.

"The invoice sent to Sylvia Moore was sent in error," the city stated in a news release. "No recovery costs will be sought against Ms. Moore for the fire occurring upon her property. The City of Jerome deeply regrets this error."

The fire started April 30 and burned throughout the night. One building collapsed and spread to a second building. About 50 people, including nine families, were displaced by the blaze.

Fire investigators say a woman accidentally left a hot glue gun on a plastic chair. Damage to the two buildings is estimated to be more than $1 million.

The fire chief said the woman would not be cited for starting the fire because it was an accident.

In the nearly $100,000 bill is $347 for food as well $57 to repair some erosion damage. A fire nozzle was also damaged during the blaze and that added up to $700, according to the invoice.

All in all, the final tab came to $96,700.97.

"This is what people pay taxes for to have fire and police protection," Moore said before learning of the news.

The property owner has owned the building for nearly 15 years.

"It's not enough that I lost my building," she said. "(That building) is my source of income - it is my retirement and I'm almost 70 year old. And I have nine displaced families - they have all lost their property."

KBOI is attempting to reach the Jerome Fire Department to comment on this story.