23 Jul 2008, 11:57pm
Latest Fire News
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Railroad To Pay Forest Service Record $102M Settlement For California Wildfire

by Windsor Genova, All Headline News, July 23, 2023 [here]Los Angeles, CA (AHN) - The Union Pacific Railroad Co. (UPRC) is paying the U.S. Forest Service $102 million to settle the federal agency’s lawsuit seeking damages from the firm for causing a California wildfire in 2000.

District Court Judge Frank C. Damrell Jr. announced Tuesday the landmark settlement to the Forest Service covering damage to Plumas and Lassen national forests, lost timber and recreation use, and the cost of firefighting.

The settlement was reached without any admission of liability by the five UPRC workers the agency accused of negligence that caused the wildfire. “We feel our employees did all the right things,” UPRC spokesman Zoe Richmond told LATimes.com.

Richmond said UPRC workers had extinguished the flames on the track they repaired on Aug. 17, 2000, in Plumas National Forest when the fire started.

In the lawsuit, the Forest Service claimed the workers did not follow safety precautions in using power tools, did not use spark shields, and did not clear the track of smoldering bits of metal when they left.

A passing train ignited the metal, causing a blaze that spread across 52,000 acres. It took 2,500 firefghters more than three weeks to extinguish the flames at a cost of $22 million.

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