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Fire blamed on orchard pump wiring

The Washington Department of Natural Resources reportedly is blaming faulty electrical wiring at an orchard irrigation pump for a major fire last summer and wants to recover firefighting costs.

WENATCHEE, Wash. — The state Department of Natural Resources apparently will try to recoup $11 million state and federal agencies spent fighting a Washington wildfire from an orchardist it says caused the fire.

The Colockum Tarps Fire burned 80,000 acres of mountainous terrain in the Colockum and Tarpiscan country between Wenatchee and Ellensburg last summer.

The DNR issued a report Dec. 23 saying the fire was caused by faulty electrical wiring at an orchard irrigation pump owned by William Scroggie, according to The Wenatchee World. A DNR spokesman told The World the agency will seek to recover $11 million in firefighting costs. The spokesman could not be reached for comment and the report is not posted on the DNR website. Scroggie could not be reached.

The fire started about 8 a.m. July 27 near the intersection of Colockum and Tarpiscan roads about 15 miles southeast of Wenatchee. It was caused by faulty irrigation pump wiring on Scroggie’s property, DNR said in its report, according to The World. The report noted violations of electrical code and two prior fires in 2007 and 2011, one caused by the wiring and another by Scroggie burning weeds, The World reported.

The 2013 fire destroyed four homes, damaged two others and destroyed many outbuildings. It forced the evacuation of 60 other homes in the Colockum in the first day and later homes closer to Ellensburg. Ground crews, planes and helicopters saved seven homes in the Parke Creek area north of the Wild Horse Wind Farm in Kittitas County on July 31. The fire came within 17 miles of Ellensburg. Firefighters peaked at 833 on Aug. 1. Most of the area burned was mountainous terrain of grass, brush and timber.


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