DNR Bills Tracy Berg $773K For Valley View Fire
SPOKANE – They fought the Valley View Fire, now the Washington Department of Natural Resources is asking a local doctor to pick up the tab.
The state is demanding Spokane Valley surgeon Dr. Tracy Berg pay firefighting costs for the Valley View fire, which burned more than 1,200 acres and destroyed 11 homes in the Dishman Hills area last July.
The DNR says Dr. Berg should not have let a 16-year-old family friend start a bonfire and they are holding her responsible for the fire suppression costs which triggered a statewide emergency response to battle the blaze.
Fire investigators determined the fire started in a pit on property belonging to another land owner next to Dr. Berg’s home. Berg had allowed a 16-year-old friend of her son to start a bonfire to roast marshmallows in that fire pit on July 7th.
One witness described the flames being five to six feet high. The investigation found the teen thought he put out the fire and it sat for three days until high winds re-kindled the flames and led to the massive wildfire which took hundreds of fire fighters and $3 Million to extinguish.
Now the state has sent Dr. Berg her share of that bill for that fire. In December the state asked for reimbursement to the tune of $773,223 which was payable by January 29th.
The state said it would accept a check or money order from Berg to pay for the fire, but so far Berg has not provided payment, so now she’s being charged $7,500 a month in interest on top of her firefighting bill.
The bill claims that Berg’s negligent acts and omissions were responsible for the fire and it spreading to the surrounding hills, prompting a massive wildfire not seen in this region since Firestorm.
It also cites several violations including the fact a burn ban was in effect, Berg didn’t have a burn permit and that she illegally burned garbage. It went on to cite that the burn pit they used was too large and there was no fire control line around it.
The letter added that “a prudent landowner would not have ignited a fire under the circumstances.”
Dr. Berg’s attorney, Tammy Williams, did not reply to a request for comment on this story. Tammy Williams did however respond to the state’s bill, saying that with the bill and three lawsuits filed by people who lost homes and property that Berg doesn’t have the assets or insurance coverage to cover the all the claims.