Liability For Destructive Central Wash. Wildfire To Be Sorted Out

Aug 16, 2012
Originally published on February 4, 2013 4:38 pm

Emergency managers in central Washington have started to collect damage reports from businesses and homeowners affected by this week's destructive wildfire. That's a prerequisite to apply for federal disaster assistance. State fire investigators have established that the Taylor Bridge Fire was human-caused.

Washington's Department of Natural Resources is leading the effort to put out the sprawling Kittitas County wildfire. As a matter of policy, the agency seeks to recover its costs from a responsible party.

In this case, Washington State Department of Transportation spokespeople say there's no question the wildfire started in the work zone of a bridge repair project near Cle Elum. A private contractor is doing the work on the bridge.

Conway Construction released a statement saying it is fully cooperating with multiple investigations. The construction company's insurer has now set up a phone line to take claims.

An operator there declined to comment because it's impossible to tell how responsibility will be divided at this early date.

The ongoing firefighting effort is running up a huge tab. To give just one example: each fire retardant drop by the biggest air tanker on the fire -- a DC-10 jetliner - costs $45,000.

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