USA – Employees of Tamarack Resort burning slash piles caused the West State Fire that burned 61 acres and threatened an unfinished lodge last month, an investigation found.
The investigation did not say whether the employees or the resort were liable for the estimated $400,000 cost of fighting the fire.
No citations or demand for reimbursement had been issued as of Dec. 23.
The fire started on Nov. 2 when sparks escaped from one of three burn piles made up of trees and brush from thinning the Mystery Glade ski run, an investigation by the Idaho Department of Lands said.
The fire quickly spread beyond control of the five people tending to the piles.
The fire burned through trees and brush near the resort’s unfinished mid-mountain lodge before being declared contained on Nov. 6.
The investigation found that the resort workers had been burning slash in the area for about two weeks prior to the fire and previously had problems with fire “creeping” through the grass.
Several agencies responded to the fire and nearby residents were told to get ready to evacuate if needed.
Southern Idaho Timber Protective Association, the Idaho Department of Lands, Donnelly Fire & EMS, and the Payette and Boise national forests all sent firefighting crews and equipment to fight the fire or protect structures.
The investigation was carried out by the IDL at the request of SITPA, which was the lead agency on the fire.
Under state law, a party must be found “willfully or negligently responsible” for the fire before costs can be claimed, IDL Public Information Officer Sharla Arledge said.
It could be months before the state and SITPA determine whether Tamarack is liable for firefighting costs, Arledge said.
Tamarack Resort President Scott Turlington declined to comment on the investigation and its findings.