Beachie Creek Fire Victims File Lawsuits
Like a lot of people living in the Santiam Canyon, Rickey Thomas and his wife fled their house in the middle of the night last September. Flames were rapidly approaching their home of 24 years.
"I said, 'I think we need to go,'" he said. "So we left with just the clothes we had on our back."
It was several weeks before they were able to return.
“We got up here and everything was gone," he said. "The house was totally burned. It was just devastating.”
Thomas and his wife are in their late 70’s, and are now living in an RV on their property near Lyons. He said his insurance settlement isn’t enough to rebuild his home.
“We do need help," he said. "I know a lot of people in the neighborhood need help. All eight houses on our street burned.”
Thomas and his wife are part of a pair of mass action lawsuits filed by victims of the Beachie Creek Fire against PacifiCorp. Plaintiffs accuse the utility of failing to shut off power lines when forecasters warned of historically hot, dry winds in the area.
A spokesperson for PacifiCorp said the company does not comment on pending litigation.
The lawsuits were filed in Marion County Circuit Court. They seek a combined total of $1.3 billion in damages. There a total of 100 plaintiffs between the two suits, which make similar claims. The plaintiffs are represented by Edelson PC and Eugene-based Johnson Johnson Lucas and Middleton.
This is at least the second round of lawsuits against PacifiCorp in the wake of the Beachie Creek Fire. The first was filed last fall.