A financial settlement for a grass fire that ignited at a youth camp and started the Lobster Creek Fire on July 1, 2018 has been reached regarding costs that had been billed to Curry County, according to a Jan. 10 press release by Curry County Commissioner Court Boice.
The Lobster Creek Fire, which started near the southern edge of the Lobster Creek Youth Camp, quickly spread and aggressively moved south.
The Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) reacted immediately and while the fire grew to 400 acres, Coos-Curry Forest Protective Association personnel fought hard and contained it in less than 28 hours.
The campgrounds were spared.
The fire was determined to have been started by campers lighting tortilla chips and stamping them out. It was unknown if other items were being burned by the campers.
The sponsors of the camp, Rogue Climate Action, had liability insurance coverage but it was limited to $2 million. The total cost for the agencies that extinguished the fire and protected the county and nearby timber lands was $4.3 million.
The State of Oregon, through ODF, filed a claim against Curry County, seeking the balance of the fire suppression costs the state had incurred.
The $2.3 million sought from the county subsequently was negotiated down to $50,000, to be paid by City-County Insurance Services (CIS) on the county’s behalf.
“We were well represented at the mediation by CIS and Curry Counsel John Huttl,” said Boice.
“This settlement is a huge win for our county. We strongly negotiated and simply asked and reminded our ODF officials to wisely maintain the relational bridges that we’ve all built in recent years. I'm proud to announce that all parties ultimately did just that.”
Added Boise: “We did everything possible to keep this from further litigation, while at the same time being determined to pay very little and to vigorously challenge our ODF friends.
“It is also important to note they were on the fire front lines with us for nearly all of the 2017 and 2018 horrible fire seasons.”