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Police say 2 firefighters were drunk at fatal fire in Florida

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The deputy chief of operations for a Florida fire department resigned at the scene of a fatal fire Sunday after taking a breathalyzer test and blowing a .22. According to the Chiefland Citizen, the Levy County Sheriff’s Office reports both Mark James and his girlfriend, Jennifer Poppell, both volunteers with Fanning Springs Fire Rescue, appeared to be drunk. Neither drove to the scene, but arrived at the RV fire in a Fanning Springs fire engine. Both were pulled from the scene and sent home in that fire engine.

David Davis, Chiefland Citizen:

LCSO Dep. John Finkell stated in an incident report that Fanning Springs firefighters Mark James and Jennifer Poppell appeared to be intoxicated. Poppell was having difficulty standing and walking in a straight line, according to the report. After observation, the decision was made to pull her from the scene and make her stay away due to safety concerns.

“I then began to observe her boyfriend, Mark James,” Finkell stated. “Mark was currently fighting the fire in full bunker gear. Mark was also the one who discovered the human body inside the camper.”

Fanning Springs Fire Chief Roy Bass arrived on scene regarding Poppell and James.

Finkell wrote, “I made contact with Mark once he was taking off the bunker gear and he began breathing deeply away from me as I was asking him questions about the body. Once Mark turned toward me, I could smell what I would identify as alcoholic beverages coming from his breath. Mark’s eyes were also very watery and dilated. Mark appeared to be in a hyper state where he was talking very fast and also was unable to explain the responses to my questions without demonstrating what he was referring to.”

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