PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – The State of Oregon is suing three people to recover nearly $893,000 that was spent battling a wildfire in Klamath County in July 2014.
The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Klamath County Circuit Court, identifies Joe Askins, Martha Havlicek-Askins and Ashley Myers as the three people responsible for the fire.
The “Ferguson Fire” started July 25, 2014 on property owned by the Askins. It burned uncontrolled on forestland protected by Oregon Department of Forestry, according to the lawsuit. The state was forced to control and extinguish the fire to protect the forestland.
It cost the state $892,082.96.
The day the fire started, the weather was hot and dry, and there was no lightning activity, according to the lawsuit. The fire danger level was also listed as “extreme” and open fire, including campfires, and cooking fires were banned.
The three defendants in the civil lawsuit are accused of arranging a fire pit on their property.
“Defendants then ignited a campfire in violation of the Regulated Closure,” the lawsuit states.
After starting the campfire, Joe Askins took a nap, the lawsuit states. Martha Havlicek-Askins and Ashley Myers both left the property to go to the store.
Askins told investigators that when he woke up from his nap, the campfire “was out of control,” according to the lawsuit.
Askins also said “I’ll take all the blame for the fire,” according to the lawsuit.
Oregon State Police cited him for reckless burning. A warrant was issued for his arrest when he failed to appear in court. In May 2016, ODF issued a written notice demanding the defendants pay for the fire.
The fire grew to more than 200 acres and destroyed two structures.
Records show all three defendants live in Nevada.