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Press Release

Alaska charter company pays $900,000 in Klutina River Fire settlement

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Alaska

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Groves Salmon Charters LLC, a fishing guide service in Copper Center, Alaska, paid $900,000 to resolve a lawsuit brought by the U.S. alleging the company negligently ignited the Klutina River Fire in 2019.

The settlement requires Groves Salmon Charters LLC and a fishing guide employed by Groves to pay for damages incurred during the Klutina River Fire.

The wildfire ignited on July 8, 2019, after Groves’ guide started a campfire at or around mile 17 of the Klutina River. Later that evening, an individual reported a large forest fire in the area along the Klutina River. The fire ultimately burned 176 acres of land before it was extinguished by state authorities.

Wildfire investigators determined Groves’ guide started a campfire at or near mile 17 of the Klutina River despite being aware of high fire danger.  Investigators determined Groves’ guide caused the Klutina River Fire when he failed to properly extinguish the campfire.

The State of Alaska Department of Natural Resources, Division of Forestry and Fire Protection undertook fire suppression efforts. The U.S. Department of Interior BLM, Alaska Fire Service was fiscally responsible for all the fire suppression costs. A multi-agency team of fire investigators from the U.S. Forest Service, Alaska Division of Forestry and Fire Protection, and BLM conducted the investigation.  

“My office wants to recognize the tireless work the State of Alaska put forward to suppress this fire, the work of the U.S. Forest Service investigators to pinpoint the cause of the fire, and the BLM Office of Law Enforcement and Security and the Alaska Fire Service who worked to complete the investigation. This settlement represents the final step in the government’s effort to ensure justice was served in this case,” said U.S. Attorney S. Lane Tucker for the District of Alaska. “As we experience longer fire seasons and more extreme fire behavior, we will hold anyone who ignites wildland fires accountable for the costs of fires they cause on Alaskan lands. We will take all measures to protect and conserve public lands for the use and enjoyment of all.”

 “Escaped campfires like this one are at the top of the list for human-caused wildfires on BLM-managed public lands in Alaska,” said BLM Alaska Prevention and Mitigation Program Lead Casey Boespflug. “These fires are often a result of a campfire or warming fire not being fully extinguished or not being built on bare ground or rock. Using a burn pan or fire barrier reduces the likelihood of a fire escaping if built on organic materials, even in wet or cold conditions.”

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jackie Traini and Glenn Shidner, with the help and support of the Department of the Interior Office of the Solicitor, litigated the case.



Reagan Zimmerman

Public Affairs Officer

Updated January 24, 2024

Press Release Number: 23-05