Feds Reach $3 Million Settlement In 2012 Horsethief Canyon Fire
The Wyoming U.S. Attorney's office has reached a settlement with the man responsible for starting the September 2012 Horsethief Canyon Fire that burned nearly five square miles near Jackson, according to a news release.
“We are pleased to have obtained a substantial recovery of costs associated with fighting this fire,” U.S. Attorney Christopher “Kip” Crofts said in the news release.
“While nothing can undo the damage that was done to the forest, this settlement sends a message that we are serious about holding those who cause fires accountable," Crofts said.
Investigators determined the fire started near a metal burn barrel on James Anderson's property on Sept. 8, 2012, about five miles south of Jackson.
Anderson used the barrel to burn debris and left it unattended. The barrel was rusted at the base creating holes that allowed ash to escape, which ignited dry vegetation and spread out of control.
The fire covered about 3,373 acres, and took nearly three weeks to fully contain.
In November 2013, the U.S. Forest Service sent a $6.3 million bill to Anderson to cover the firefighting costs.
The U.S. Attorney's Office later told him of its intent to file a civil action for negligence, seeking recovery of fire suppression costs and related damages incurred by the Forest Service and its federal and state agency partners.
The $2,925,000 settlement avoids further litigation, according to the news release.
The settlement amount, which includes insurance payments, will be shared among the various federal and state agencies involved according to a cost share agreement.
Wyoming Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Klaassen represented the federal government. Other agencies involved in the investigation and settlement were the U.S. Forest Service, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Office of General Counsel.