Accidents happen in life. But for the sake of your wallet, do yourself a favor and make sure one of these accidents doesn’t involve you starting a forest fire.
Wyoming resident James G. Anderson, 77, has been ordered to pay $6.3 million after reportedly causing a forest fire that burned down five square miles of Wyoming woods.
The Wyoming Forest Service alleged that Anderson started a fire using twigs and paper in an old barrel on September 8, 2012. After starting to the fire, Anderson went inside to watch football. He later looked outside and saw a cloud of smoke rising from the now-huge fire. He called 911 right away and reported the flames.
By the time firefighters arrived at the property, the fire had spread to the woods of the national forest neighboring the home. The fire burned 5 square miles of woods as Jackson, Wyoming residents were put on alert and warned that they may have to evacuate their homes. After hours of work, fire crews were able to extinguish the flames just a few miles from the edge of town.
Now, forest authorities want Anderson to pick up the tab for the damage he caused. According to the Forest Service, firefighting costs for the fire were roughly $9 million. The costs include $3.8 million incurred by the Forest Service, $2 million by the Bureau of Land Management, $64,000 to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, $154,000 to the National Park Service, and $252,000 to the state of Wyoming and Teton County.
State Forester Bill Crapser admitted that the state is not likely to receive the $6.3 million they are seeking from Anderson.
"When the attempts have been made, it's fairly successful," Crapser said. "The problem is, when you're talking about a $6 million or $9 million fire cost, you're probably going to end up with whatever the insurance policy is on it."