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Lawsuits seek over $1B from Pacific Power over wildfires

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Two new lawsuits filed in Marion County seek more than $1 billion in damages from Pacific Power, claiming the utility’s negligence led to wildfires in the Santiam Canyon last year.

The two lawsuits filed Wednesday represent over 100 people impacted by the Beachie Creek Fire, The Statesman Journal reported.

The two law firms leading the effort, Edelson PC and Johnson Johnson Lucas and Middleton, say Pacific Power, doing businesses as PacifiCorp, “failed to safely design, operate, and maintain its infrastructure leading to the fire.”

They also allege that PacifiCorp failed to heed warnings of impending “historic” high winds and extreme drought conditions.

Pacific Power told the newspaper in a statement that it does not comment on pending litigation.

It’s at least the third lawsuit filed against the utility related to wildfires last September.

Among those named in the lawsuit filed Wednesday are Ute and Rickey Thomas, who lost their home in Lyons, the law firms said. Rita Perkins lost a home of 60 years in Lyons, along with a boat, vehicle, and woodworking shop, according to the lawsuit.

Darrel Bush, Desiree Olsen and Steven Olsen also lost a home in Gates, along with cars, sheds, and a tool collection, the lawsuit said.

The lawsuits generally follow the same narrative as previous lawsuits, citing a Pacific Power decision not to shut down power lines when the National Weather Service issued an “extremely critical” fire warning in advance of Labor Day.

Other utilities, including PG&E and Consumers Power Inc. did shut down power due to the historically high and dry winds.

Boats are partially obscured by smoke from a wildfire at a marina on Detroit Lake burned by the Beachie Creek Fire, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020, in Detroit, Ore. (AP Photo/John Locher)