Insurance Companies Sue Avista for Payments in Babb Road Fire
More than a dozen insurers have sued Avista alleging negligence and seeking reimbursement of payments made in connection with the Babb Road fire.
SPOKANE COUNTY, Wash. – More than a dozen insurance companies have filed a lawsuit against Avista Utilities as they seek to recover insurance payments related to the 2020 Babb Road fire. fire destroyed more than 80% of buildings in the towns of Malden and Pine City.
The lawsuit follows a similar lawsuit brought by townspeople who lost their homes in the devastating fire on September 7, 2020.
In both cases, insurers and residents accuse Avista of negligence based on a Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) report.
MNR determined that the Babb Road fire was caused by contact between a ponderosa pine tree and one or more Avista power lines after a ‘bad tree’ snapped and came into contact with the power lines from Avista.
MNR investigators determined the tree had significant growth defects and was also a carrier of disease, making it more susceptible to failure.
Documents say the DNR also discovered that the faulty tree had already failed and broken once a few years before the fire, and that the tree should have been removed or trimmed by Avista.
“Avista failed in its duty and was negligent when it failed to de-energize its power lines during a red flag warning and also when it failed to implement an effective program of vegetation management allowing a tree to come into contact with its energized power lines and cause a fire,” the lawsuit says.
Insurance companies want Avista to reimburse the costs of payments made as a result of the fire. The lawsuit said the amount will be determined at trial, but estimates it will be more than $8 million.
KREM 2 News has contacted Avista for comment but had not heard back at the time of this article’s publication.