Victims of Slater Fire file new lawsuit against PacifiCorp

By Sophia Prince (Jefferson Public Radio)
Feb. 25, 2022 4:47 p.m.

Victims of the 2020 Slater Fire are suing the utility company responsible for starting the deadly wildfire, after a tree allegedly hit a PacifiCorp power line and caught fire.

The fire killed two people and damaged or destroyed 700 properties in counties along the Oregon-California border. The lawsuit announced Wednesday is being filed by the law firm Singleton Schrieber on behalf of 42 plaintiffs.

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Gerald Singleton, an attorney on the case, says that they are representing over 100 individuals.

“These run the gamut from homeowners who lost their home and everything they own to renters who had the place that they rented burn down so they lost everything they owned in the world, all their personal possessions. To people who owned land and had that land destroyed,” Singleton said.

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PacifiCorp could not be reached for comment.

A road through a burned forest area on a sunny day with some clouds in the sky.

An undated photo of a portion of the Slater Fire footprint outside of Happy Camp, California.

Erik Neumann / JPR News

The lawsuit alleges that the electric utility failed to maintain proper vegetation management to protect their power lines. Singleton says that it appears that the Slater Fire began when a tree made contact with the utility company’s power line.

“When you have properly designed, maintained and inspected powerlines, there should never be a tree that comes into contact with it,” he said.

In the days prior to the fire, the National Weather Service issued warnings about 50 mile per hour winds hitting the area. Some other utilities deenergized their power lines, but PacifiCorp did not, according to the lawsuit.

This is Singleton Schrieber’s second lawsuit against PacifiCorp in relation to the Slater Fire.

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