USA The federal government has filed a $1.6 million lawsuit against a Utah County construction company accused of igniting a wildfire in 2012.
The U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service filed a civil lawsuit in federal court Monday against Patterson Construction, Inc. and other subcontractors.
Patterson Construction hired a subcontractor to dig a trench for geological testing before building homes near Alpine. The track hoe digging the trench stalled after about 20 minutes of operations, so the worker using the equipment asked for an ignition accelerant be sprayed on the engine.
Once it got started, the engine burned hotter, and a fire sparked under the track hoe.
The day the fire started, July 3, the National Weather Service had issued a red flag warning, meaning that the risk of wildfires was very high and activities that could spark a fire should be avoided.
The fire, later known as the Quail Fire, quickly grew out of control, eventually burning 2,222 acres over a period of seven days.
The lawsuit states that despite conditions that foreseeably increased the risk of a wildland fire, the contractors did not adhere to industry mandated safety precautions. It was too hot, dry and windy for contractors to be using an ignition accelerant on machinery surrounded by dry vegetation, the lawsuit reads.
The lawsuit states that the contractors acted in negligence and the United States is entitled to continuing interest and penalties based on the damages demanded.