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Kenosha man speaks after bonfire gets out of control, torches 11 buildings

KENOSHA, Wis. (CBS 58) -- A Saturday afternoon fire in Kenosha left 11 buildings burned, damaged and some destroyed.

With cars, a boat and a motorcycle lost in the flames, the man that accidentally started it says that he's learned his lesson.

"I'd say about a half hour in it got really windy, so I'm like, 'Okay. This is crazy. I had two 5-gallon buckets of water with me so I'll just put the fire out, put it out and that was that," said Erick Jordan.

Jordan tells CBS 58 he took multiple steps to ensure the fire was safe: he had 10 gallons of water with him and was present the entire burn.

After he put out the flames, he believes an ember blew into his garage and caught fire.

"I start looking in there, and I'm looking and it's just -- it's just fire. The middle of the garage is just on fire," said Jordan. "I'm freaking out at that point and the wind blew even more and the fire just went even higher. I'm like, 'Oh my God. I ran in the house, told the family to get out."

The fire spread to his neighbor's home and garage, and other neighbors homes and buildings as well. The heat from the fire melted an adjacent neighbor's siding.

Jordan's neighbor lost a boat and a motorcycle that were in the garage. That neighbor is displaced from his home. Both their garages burnt to the ground and Jordan's three cars were torched.

While the fire got out of hand, Jordan had no idea his backyard bonfire violated a few rules.

Over the summer, the City of Kenosha published new rules for outdoor burning. Jordan was slapped with an ordinance violation after the fire was put out. He says he had no idea there were restrictions.

According to city law, he started his fire too early in the day, and the wind was 5 miles per hour faster than allowed. You can read the entire ordinance under city code chapter 3.19 here.

"I don't want anybody to go through this. If I'm going to be that lesson guy, let me be that lesson guy. Look at ordinances. Check them. Do whatever you can. I thought I was doing everything, but the ordinance, I didn't see it," said Jordan.

The citation for violating the fire pit ordinance can range from $100 to $1000.

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