Lawsuit Filed Against Roseburg Forest Products Co. Over the Start of the Mill Fire
Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, LLP filed a lawsuit against Roseburg Forest Products Co. in San Francisco County Superior Court arising out of the Mill Fire which began on September 2, 2022. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Robert Davies, a 61 year old disabled widower, who lost his home of over 30 years and all of its contents. The Mill Fire tore through Siskyou County for 11 days, burned 3,935 acres, destroyed 118 structures, injured three people, and killed two people.
Roseburg Forest Products Co. creates wood veneer and also generates electricity at an onsite Biomass Plant. Roseburg uses the electricity to power the facility but also transfers the electricity generated onsite into Siskyou County’s electrical grid for public use. The Biomass Plant creates electricity by burning wood, which creates a hot ash byproduct. The hot ash was stored in “Shed 17,” which the complaint alleges was about 100 years old. The hot ash, if not properly cooled or treated, poses a risk of fire ignition. It is alleged that the hot ash from the Biomass Plant frequently caused unreported fires at the facility. Roseburg had installed a fire suppression system, but it did not function as intended. It is alleged in the complaint that instead of fixing the system, Roseburg depended on employees promptly reacting to extinguish the fires – rather than spending the money necessary to design and maintain an effective fire suppression system.
The lawsuit alleges the Mill Fire was the result of Roseburg’s deliberate failure to avoid known risks of fire ignition associated with the industrial processes conducted at its mill.
Frank Pitre, Partner at Cotchett, Pitre & McCarty, LLP, said of the lawsuit,
“Roseburg chose to save money, jeopardizing the safety of its employees and the general public instead of designing and maintaining a robust fire suppression system.”
The case is Davies v. Roseburg Forest Products Co., Case No. [Not Yet Assigned/Lodged 10/4/2022] (San Francisco County Superior Court)