A decaying Douglas fir tree fell onto a power line operated by PacifiCorp on June 23, 2009 and started the Sims Creek Fire. The National Forest System owns the land the power lines are on and PacificCorp is required to remove falling limbs and trees, and keep the area around the lines clear. Any resulting damages is to be paid by PacifiCorp. When Forest Service investigators looked at what caused the fire, they found that PacifiCorp had failed to identify as hazardous and remove the 64-foot tree that started the fire.
The fire burned 160 acres in the Klamath National Forest and the cost of the fire (which included suppression and rehabilitation) was $1.22 million. Although PacifiCorp denied liability for the fire, they agreed to pay the entire cost of the fire.
U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner commented, “Federal public lands are national treasures, and our office will continue to identify those responsible for starting fires and hold them accountable for the damage caused so taxpayers do not have to bear these costs. PacifiCorp took responsibility by fully compensating the United States for all damages without requiring time-consuming and costly litigation.”
The U. S. Attorney’s office has also settled other significant cases this year from national forest injury: $122.5 million with Sierra Pacific and other defendants for the Moonlight Fire, and $29.5 million for the 2004 Freds Fire and the 2004 Sims Fire.
Evergreen Arborists Consultants, Inc. has expert witness experience with property damage and personal injury cases. We have deposition and trial experience working for plaintiff and defense cases on behalf of individuals, insurance companies and public agencies. Please call us today for a consultation.