Yarnell Hill Fire: New class action suit filed for damages
Victims of the Yarnell Hill Fire are starting to put dollar figures to the damage they suffered, and it's in the millions of dollars. (Source: CBS 5 News)
PHOENIX (CBS5/AP) -
Victims of the Yarnell Hill Fire are putting dollar figures to the damage they suffered, and it's in the millions of dollars range.
The most recent came Friday when a suit was filed on behalf of property owners Nina and Chuck Overmyer.
It's a class action suit on behalf of "all of the residents, individuals, property owners, and business owners of Yarnell, Glen Ilah, Peeples Valley, and the surrounding geographical area" who suffered property damage, lost income, and earning potential, personal injuries, emotional harm or emotional distress and other tortious injuries, damages, harms, and losses as a result of the negligent, reckless, careless and intentional misconduct of the public entities in charge of fighting the Yarnell Hill fire over the period of June 28 to June 30."
So far, at least 35 notices of claim have been filed with the Arizona Attorney General's Office, and more could possibly be on the way. Twelve of the claims were filed on Thursday, according to the Prescott law office of Tom Kelly.
"The families of those who died on June 30 have served claim notices in order to protect their legal rights, and also in an effort to have a dialogue with the state, county, city and fire district to discuss positive changes to ensure that this type of tragedy does not happen again. The families will not be making any public statement during this holiday season and request that their privacy be respected by the media during this difficult time," Kelly said in a statement Thursday.
In the notices, residents say the destruction can be blamed on the "negligence, carelessness and intentional misconduct" of the state of Arizona, Yavapai County, city of Prescott and the Yarnell Fire District.
Residents say that "with reasonable professional planning and coordination, managers could have prevented Yarnell's obliteration without endangering the Granite Mountain Hot Shots, 19 of whom died in the fire.
They claim that if managers had arranged for an orderly evacuation, residents could have saved their heirlooms, mementos and other personal items.
The residents also accuse management of a cover-up. They say the entities misrepresented the facts to avoid blame.
The notices refer to a vote earlier this month by Arizona OSHA that imposed a nearly $560,000 fine in penalties against the Arizona Forestry Division for its oversight of the fire.
In the first 23 claims, residents have demanded at least $99.6 million in compensation for damages, according to The Daily Courier in Prescott. CBS 5 News is working to get additional figures in regards to Thursday's notices of claim.
If the entities agree to pool their resources, the demands would be much lower.
CBS 5 News contacted all the agencies targeted and many of the people making the claims. No one would talk since these claims are active.
Stay with cbs5az.com and CBS 5 News for updates on this developing story.
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