Lawsuit emerges after Pacifica Fire

, Written by Kyle Aevermann, Posted: Fri, July 11 2014 at 6:20 PM, Updated: Fri, July 11 2014 at 6:34 PM

Williams, Ore. -- It's been nearly a year since the Pacifica Fire burned 500 acres near Williams, and the Oregon Department of Forestry has not released a cause.

But two homeowners are suing Pacifica Gardens for the damages done to their property not covered by insurance.

A member of the nature center and botanical gardens told NBC 5 news, last year that a "sun ceremony" was taking place when the fire broke out but investigators have not said they were responsible for the blaze.      

The Oregon Department of Forestry has yet to release a cause.

Wally Hicks, the attorney representing the case said, "that's frustrating, they are working on behalf of the public, so if they are uncovering facts on the public interest then the public should learn what those facts are along the way."

Hicks said he conducted his own investigation.

"Based upon the results of that  investigation the fire was set negligently, under conditions that constituted negligence, legally, and therefore damages are owed."

The gardens declined to comment about the lawsuit.

When NBC 5 spoke with Pacifica Gardens last year, they said they take safety precautions during those ceremonies.

But ODF has not said publicly who was responsible.

Hicks, who is also a state representative, was the co-author and sponsor of senate bill 709 which passed just a month before the fire.

"It clarifies how damages are assigned to persons whose property has been damaged by wildfires," said Hicks.

The damage for Hicks' two clients is a combined loss of almost half a million dollars and says they need to be paid for what was lost. 

But without word from ODF his clients may have to wait.

The Pacifica Fire ended up costing more than $844,000 to fight.

Hicks says he's filed a public records request with the state to get his hands on ODF's investigation.

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About the Author

Kyle Aevermann

Kyle Aevermann reports weekdays and anchors NBC 5 News Weekends. He joined NBC 5 News in March 2012 as a morning producer and reporter. Prior to joining KOBI, Kyle interned at KISL-FM on Catalina Island, CA. He was also a regular contributor to CNN's citizen journalism program.

Originally from the Chicago-land area, Kyle moved to the Pacific Northwest in 2009 to work in the social media industry. Kyle enjoys hiking, traveling, learning about cultures, and has a serious love for food.

Catch Kyle anchoring weekends on NBC 5 News at 6pm and 11pm.

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