SALEM, Ore. (AP) — A second lawsuit has been filed against an Oregon ranch accused of causing millions of dollars in damages by negligently igniting a 2018 wildfire.
The federal government filed a complaint claiming that J-Spear Ranch of Paisley, Oregon, started the Watson Creek Fire in the Fremont-Winema National Forest, The Capital Press reported.
A similar lawsuit was filed by a timber company last month. According to the federal government’s lawsuit, the fire claimed 59,000 acres, of which about 46,000 are administered by the U.S. Forest Service.
The suit says it resulted in at least $14 million worth of losses in timber, habitat, water protection and environmental values, as well as fire suppression and rehabilitation costs.
The complaint alleges the fire was sparked in mid-August 2018 by a ranch employee on an all-terrain vehicle conducting maintenance on the Paradise Creek allotment, for which J-Spear Ranch is responsible.
The ranch had not outfitted the vehicle with fire-suppression equipment or cleaned it to remove dried vegetation and other debris, as required by fire season rules for that area, the government claims.
The timber company’s complaint alleges that J-Spear Ranch’s actions caused the fire to burn nearly 13,000 acres of its property, resulting in $7.75 million in damages.
Capital Press was unable to reach J-Spear Ranch for comment because its telephone number is disconnected and no company lawyer is named in court records.