Oregon sues people it says started 2 wildfires

The 2 fires burned about 3,000 acres total

A wildfire in Oregon (KOIN, file)
A wildfire in Oregon (KOIN, file)

SALEM, Ore. (AP) – The State of Oregon has filed lawsuits against people it says were responsible for starting two forest fires.

The Oregonian/OregonLive reports that the state filed one suit against a man who is accused of napping while his campfire sparked a 200-acre Southern Oregon blaze.

In that case, the state is seeking almost $900,000 to cover the costs of extinguishing the July 2014 fire. The suit names Joe Thurmond Askins, his wife and step-daughter.

The state also filed a $3.6 million lawsuit against an Eastern Oregon rancher who investigators say negligently drove a utility vehicle across fields of bone-dry grass – igniting what became a 2,700-acre wildfire in Grant County in August 2014.

According to the second lawsuit, rancher John Lee Habberstad should have known that the exhaust system on his utility vehicle posed a fire hazard.

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