DNR: Logging company billed for big forest fire - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

DNR: Logging company billed for big forest fire


MADISON (WAOW) – A logging company will be billed more than $600,000 for its role in causing Wisconsin's largest forest fire in 33 years, the state Department of Natural Resources said Monday.

Ray Duerr Logging of Rib Lake misled investigators and failed to properly maintain equipment it had available to fight accidental fires, including a pressurized water system on a tree-cutting tool, the DNR said.

The investigation determined the company's negligence caused the forest fire to start and spread,” the DNR said in a statement.

The so-called German Road Fire ignited May 14 in northern Wisconsin and burned nearly 7,500 acres in Douglas County in a 10-mile long, 1.5-mile wide swath, the DNR said.

Forty-seven structures were destroyed, including 17 homes or cabins, the agency said.

A crew for Ray Duerr Logging was cutting trees on industrial timber land when the fire started, the DNR said.

A water system on a cutting tool called a Timberjack 840 had not been pressurized and water only “dribbled out” the day of the fire, the DNR said. The company failed to disclose the existence of the system until nearly a month after the fire, investigators said.

The logging company officials also said they didn’t know if the pressurized water system worked as they had never tested it,” the DNR said.

In addition, the fire extinguisher on the cutting tool was manufactured in 2001 and its last annual inspection was in May 2010.

It appears the fire extinguisher worked mechanically,” the DNR said. “However, it is not clear if it was used properly.”

Bill Grunewald , an attorney for the logging company, said Monday he had not seen the DNR bills.

Certainly, we will dispute the responsibility for it (the fire),” the attorney said. “It will be in litigation.”


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