Iowa man given maximum possible fine for massive railroad tie fire

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SERGEANT BLUFF, IOWA — A western Iowa man is being fined $80,000 – the largest fine allowable – for setting a massive fire in 2018 despite being told it was illegal in advance.

A Woodbury County judge issued the judgment this week against John Goldsmith of Sergeant Bluff. Goldsmith burned more than 30,000 railroad ties in August of 2018. Authorities say Goldsmith knew that it was illegal to burn the chemically treated wood. He reportedly called the DNR and told them he planned to barricade his property and burn the wood, which he did from August 11th to August 14th.

Goldsmith reportedly told a DNR officer that the cost of removing the toxic wood was more than the value of the land they sat on. Goldsmith reportedly conducted another illegal burn one month later.

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