Legal News Line Apr. 1, 2015, 10:42am


LOS ANGELES (Legal Newsline) - The United States is suing the California Department of Transportation over allegations employees ignited a fire in 2013 while clearing out a brush without the proper fire suppression equipment.

The lawsuit was filed on March 18 against both the transportation department and the State of California, claiming the employees ignited the Gabriel Fire on July 30, 2013, on land owned by the United States.

The lawsuit claims the fire was started while they were clearing brush adjacent to Highway 39 near Azusa. The fire destroyed about 4.7 acres of land in the Angeles National Forest.

The suit claims the transportation department failed to take the proper precautions in order to prevent the spread of a fire. The fire allegedly started from a mowing tractor and equipment.

“Defendants conducted the brush clearing operation during a time and in an area in which defendants knew or should have known their activities posed a significant danger of causing a fire,” the lawsuit said. “The ignition of the Gabriel Fire was an incident of a kind that ordinarily does not occur in the absence of someone’s negligence.”

The lawsuit claims the United States Forest Service spent about $60,000 to put out the fire and seeks restitution for those costs. The suit seeks other unspecified damage amounts plus court costs.

The lawsuit was filed by Stephanie Yonekura, acting United States attorney, Leon W. Weidman, and Kevin Finn, assistant United States attorneys.

United States District Court for the Central District of California-Western Division case number 2:15-cv-02021.

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