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United States reaches $300,000 settlement with railroad for Parkdale Canyon Fire

August 20, 2012

DENVER, Colorado — The United States has reached a settlement with the Cañon City Royal Gorge Railroad to pay $300,000 for damages incurred by the United States in suppressing the Parkdale Canyon Fire, U.S. Attorney John Walsh announced today.

The Parkdale Canyon Fire was a wild land fire that ignited on or about June 21, 2010 at approximately 1:15 p.m. in the Royal Gorge along the Arkansas River in Fremont County, Colorado. The fire burned over 600 acres, of which approximately 215 acres were public land. Two private residences were also burned in the fire. The United States incurred substantial costs in suppressing the fire.

Today’s settlement resolves the United States’ allegations that the fire was caused by the Railroad’s operation of a scenic train from Cañon City, Colorado to Parkdale, Colorado. The United States alleges that the train operated by the Railroad caused the fire because it lacked functioning spark arresters and brake shoes. Multiple fires broke out along the railroad tracks after the train passed through the area. The Railroad denies all liability or wrongdoing for causing the fire.

“When wildfires burn federal land it costs the taxpayers a substantial sum of money to suppress the fires,” said U.S. Attorney John Walsh. “It is important that the U.S. Attorney’s Office, working closely with the affected federal agencies recover as much money as possible from those responsible to pay for suppressing the fire.”

“We appreciate the hard work of everyone involved in this settlement as well as suppressing this fire,” said Helen Hankins, Bureau of Land Management Colorado State Director Helen Hankins. “This is a reminder of the importance of interagency cooperation both in managing wildfires and minimizing the costs to the public.”

The United States Attorney’s Office acknowledges the cooperation and teamwork demonstrated by governmental entities involved in today’s recovery. Special thanks are extended to Bureau of Land Management, the United States Forest Service, the Department of the Interior’s Office of the Solicitor, and the Department of Agriculture’s Office of General Counsel.

The United States was represented in this matter by Assistant United States Attorney Amanda Rocque of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Denver, Colorado.


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