FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 17, 2012
DNR Releases Taylor Bridge Fire Investigation
Report describes origin and cause of 23,000 acre fire
OLYMPIA – The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has released its investigation of the Taylor Bridge Fire, describing the origin and cause of the $11 million fire that destroyed 61 homes, hundreds of other structures, and blackened over 23,000 acres. The investigation found that the fire was human caused and was associated with the cutting and welding activity taking place on a bridge at the intersection of State Highway 10 and Taylor Road, southeast of Cle Elem.
In the report, the investigator states, “Based on the fire direction indicators, the information and evidence collected to date, I determine that the fire was human caused and was most likely caused by errant sparks and/or slag from the construction activity that was occurring on the bridge immediately prior to the fire’s start.”
The fire was reported to 911 at 1:19 pm on August 13. Employees of contractors and subcontractors for Washington Department of Transportation (WDOT) were working on the bridge and attempted to extinguish the fire. The fire started from point of origin about 30 feet from where one worker was using a power saw to cut rebar on the bridge deck and second worker was welding under the bridge.
The report also states that “this bridge deck replacement activity is an industrial operation which may cause a fire to start on or adjacent to forestland. The construction activity was occurring in “shut down zone” 675 and the Industrial Fire Protection Level for the day was level 3 (IFPL3).”
Conference call for reporters: 11:00 am, 12/17/12
Phone Number: 360-407-3780 Pass code: 447366#
Copies of the report and attachments can be requested by sending an email to: CHERI.JARRETT@dnr.wa.gov
Suppression cost recovery
DNR is responsible (RCW 76.04.495) for seeking recovery for its costs associated with the suppression of wildfires. The total suppression cost of the Taylor Bridge fire is estimated to be $11.1 million dollars, with DNR’s cost estimated to be approximately half that. Suppression costs do not include damage or loss of private property or impact to public land or infrastructure. DNR works with the Attorney General’s office to determine from whom DNR will seek cost recovery. The process starts with a letter demanding full payment for suppression costs and can ultimately lead to litigation.
Industrial Fire Precaution Level system
- Industrial Fire Precaution Level applies to all industrial operations that may cause a fire on or adjacent to lands protected from fire by DNR (WAC 332-24-301).
- The levels are established for each of 38 “shutdown zones” in the state on the basis of National Fire Danger Rating System data.
- There are four IFPL levels:
Level 1: fire watch or security is required
Level 2: limits power saws and welding to between 8 pm and 1 pm; fire watch or security is required
Level 3: prohibits the use of power saws or welding at industrial sites; fire watch or security is required
Level 4: All operations are prohibited
Media Contact: Bryan Flint, Director of Communications & Outreach, 360-902-1023, firstname.lastname@example.org
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