U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams announced today that PacifiCorp, a Portland-based utility that provides electricity to several states, including Oregon, has agreed to pay $3.4 million to settle allegations by the United States relating to the August 2018 Ramsey Canyon Fire in Jackson County, Oregon.
The Ramsey Canyon Fire ignited on August 22, 2018 near the base of a PacifiCorp transmission line 12 miles northwest of Eagle Point, Oregon. The fire burned approximately 1,888 acres of federal, state, and private land, including 930 acres of land managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The United States sought more than $4.8 million in suppression costs and resource damages.
PacifiCorp is an Oregon corporation headquartered in Portland. The company has a utility right-of-way on BLM land in Jackson and Douglas Counties on which it owns and operates the Dixonville-to-Meridian 500kV transmission line. The United States contends that the fire was caused by the failure of a connector on a transmission structure that PacifiCorp failed to properly install, inspect and maintain. The settlement is not an admission of liability of by PacifiCorp. PacifiCorp denies the United States’ contentions.
“Each year, countless Oregonians live with the recurring threat of wildfires jeopardizing their safety and personal property. Sadly, thousands of acres of public and private land are burned by preventable fires” said U.S. Attorney Williams. “Our office is committed to protecting these lands.”
“Oregon’s forest resources are important to the well-being and economy of dozens of small communities, and the BLM manages these resources for the benefit of all Americans. The loss of these lands and the cost of fighting this fire represent a significant loss to taxpayers, and we’re pleased this settlement will help recoup those costs,” said William Perry Pendley, BLM Deputy Director, Policy and Programs. “Congratulations to the career BLM employees who provided the expertise to assess the damage done to the public’s lands and to recover these costs for the benefit of the American taxpayer.”
The Oregon Department of Forestry assisted the BLM and the U.S. Forest Service in investigating this case. The United States was represented in this matter by Carla McClurg, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.