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Press Release

United States Reaches $1,275,000 Settlement With Power Company For Beaver Fire

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

DENVER – The United States has reached a settlement with the San Miguel Power Association to pay $1,275,000 for damages incurred by the United States in suppressing the Beaver Fire, announced Matt Kirsch, Attorney for the United States, acting under authority conferred by 28 U.S.C. § 515. 

The Beaver Fire was a wildland fire that ignited on May 22, 2010, when two cottonwood trees fell across an electrical power line owned and operated by San Miguel Power.  The fire burned approximately 2,600 acres of public and National Forest System lands near Norwood, in San Miguel County, Colorado.  The United States incurred substantial costs in suppressing the fire.

The settlement resolves the United States’ allegations that the fire was caused by San Miguel Power Association’s failure to properly inspect the area adjacent to its power lines.  The United States alleges that the trees that fell across the line were visibly decayed and should have been identified as hazards and removed prior to the ignition of the Beaver Fire.  The United States’ position is that the San Miguel Power Association failed to properly train its employees and contractors and failed to put in place an adequate procedure or program to identify decayed trees that pose a fire risk.  The San Miguel Power Association denies all liability or wrongdoing for causing the fire.  

“Today’s recovery helps offset the financial cost to the public of fire suppression,” said BLM Colorado State Director Jamie Connell.  “On behalf of the many firefighters who worked on these and other fires in the West, we appreciate a resolution that benefits the public, the public’s land, and the multiple uses public lands support in Colorado.”

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 the 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 Attorneys Jacob Licht and Katherine Ross of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Denver, Colorado. 


Jeff Dorschner
Spokesman, Public Affairs Officer
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Colorado
303-454-0243 direct; 303-454-0400 fax

Updated July 11, 2019

Press Release Number: CASE NUMBER: 16-cv-002845