Well this is pretty sick. Residents in Obion County, Tennessee, have to pay an annual fee of $US75 for fire department service. The Cranick family didn't pay, so firefighters stood around and watched their house burn to the ground.
Initially, the South Fulton city fire department wouldn't even respond to the family's calls, only arriving after the fire spread to a neighbour's field. But while the Cranick family tried in vain to stop the blaze with garden houses, the firefighters remained by their trucks. They left the scene with the Cranick's house still consumed in flames.
South Fulton Mayor David Crocker explained, "Anybody that's not in the city of South Fulton, it's a service we offer, either they accept it or they don't.
One neighbour was so frustrated with the fire department's inaction that they went to the fire station and assaulted a firefighter. But Paulette Cranick, who says she lost generations of family heirlooms in the blaze, responded to the situation with greater equanimity: "They're doing what they are told to do. It's not their fault." [WPSD]