CalFire Sues to Recover Costs Of Fighting Wildland Fire

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) filed suit last week against a man it claims started the Bridge Fire in Cambria in 2017. The suit was filed in San Luis Obispo Superior Court against Andrew William Dreyfus and seeks $65,532 in damages.

Cal Fire claims that on July 18, 2017, Dreyfus was working on a tractor and he engaged in a “metal-grinding operation that emitted sparks and/or hot metallic pieces and which landed on the annual grasses and duff in the area in which he was grinding, thereby kindling the Bridge Fire.” The fire burned three acres and was under control in roughly 2 ½ hours, but required aerial operations to contain.

A copy of the complaint is not available, but the Tribune is reporting that when Dreyfus called 911 to report the fire, he admitted to being careless in starting it. The suit is based on California law that allows public entities to recover fire suppression costs from those who negligently start a wildland fire.

More on the story.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 45 years of fire service experience and 35 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014, 4th ed. 2022) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.
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