Malden, Pine City families sue Avista for damages from Babb Road Fire

MALDEN, Wash. – Malden and Pine City families are suing Avista for damages, claiming the utility company did not take reasonable precautions to protect them from the fire that burned down their towns.  

The lawsuit was filed in Spokane County Superior Court Wednesday on behalf of 27 families impacted by the Babb Road Fire. 

The fire quickly burned through the towns on Labor Day 2020, burning nearly everything in its path. 

Investigators determined the fire sparked when a diseased and defective Ponderosa Pine tree broke and fell on an Avista power line. 

According to the lawsuit, investigators with the Department of Natural Resources also found the tree had significant growth defects and carried disease leaving it more susceptible to failure. 

The lawsuit alleges Avista allowed the defective tree to grow for many years toward and alongside its power lines. 

“Avista should have been aware of the hazard presented by the defective tree and taken measures to remove it as a hazard to its power lines,” the lawsuit states. 

Now, the plaintiffs are seeking compensation for damages, including physical and mental pain and suffering, destruction of personal property, loss of cherished possessions, loss of business income, as well as out-of-pocket expenses.

Avista released the following statement in response to the lawsuit:

The events on Labor Day 2020 and the losses that residents of Malden and Pine City experienced as a result were devastating, and Avista has been and continues to support and partner with these communities on the recovery. Since the initial restoration efforts began immediately following the fire, Avista has served as a steady supporter, facilitating connections, helping to build capacity, convening people and organizations and much more that has contributed to the community’s ability to access funding and move toward rebuilding in tangible ways. The resilience of the community and the progress achieved through perseverance and collaboration has been remarkable.While we have not seen and were not aware of a filed lawsuit, Avista will participate and cooperate in any legal process related to this topic.

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