WA DNR files lawsuit against Avista for Boyd’s Fire

(STAFF REPORTS/Chewelah Independent)

The Boyd’s Fire in Ferry County near Kettle Falls destroyed several homes in August of 2018.

GOING TO COURT: State contends Avista did not take care of trees and brush surrounding power lines and was cause of 2018 blaze…

The Washington Department of Natural Resources is contending that Avista Utilities was negligent in not maintaining trees and brush around its power line near Kettle Falls, causing the 4,000-acre Boyd’s Fire in 2018.

The fire began on Aug. 11, and the DNR said it started from a “hazardous dead ponderosa pine tree that collapsed onto electrical lines owned, maintained and operated by Avista.”

The DNR is suing for firefighting costs.

The lawsuit contends that the tree was 52-feet tall, was suffering from bark beetle infestation and had been dead for a year. It was located 32 feet away from power lines. The DNR said the company failed to remove the tree despite the danger of its location near power lines.

The DNR will be represented by the Washington Office of the Attorney General, Bob Ferguson.

According to normal electrical standards, trees like the one that started the Boyd’s Fire are usually called for removal since they post such a risk.

The Boyd’s Fire scorched the landscape above Barney’s Junction outside of Kettle Falls and caused a multitude of evacuation orders that lasted several days.

One family who lost their home, the Picketts, have recently posted online about their struggles with their mortgage company regarding funds for reconstruction and say they are being forced to move to California because the Boyd’s Fire burned down their home.

Avista has not made a comment in the media at press time.