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Residents Sue Washington State Over Carlton Complex Response

Jessica Robinson
Northwest News Network
File photo. The Carlton Complex fire burned more than 250,000 acres and hundreds of homes.

Three people are suing the State of Washington over the response to 2014’s Carlton Complex fire. The fire, initially called the Golden Hike fire, was started by lightning. Plaintiffs David and Deannis Schulz and John Clees say it started as just a few acres and that the state could have contained it.

But the plaintiffs say the state let the Golden Hike fire get off public land. Then, that fire merged with others and became the Carlton Complex, which burned more than 250,000 acres. The plaintiffs and their attorneys say it destroyed their personal property, buildings and timber -- to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

They also claim the state abandoned the fire lines and wouldn’t let neighbors help each other fight the fire as it spread toward their property.

The lead attorney representing the three said he represents about 200 people who will eventually be filing their own suits against the state.

The lawsuit was filed in Okanogan County Superior Court. The state says it has no comment. 

Anna King calls Richland, Washington home and loves unearthing great stories about people in the Northwest. She reports for the Northwest News Network from a studio at Washington State University, Tri-Cities. She covers the Mid-Columbia region, from nuclear reactors to Mexican rodeos.