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Klickitat PUD Continues Appeals Of Mile Marker 28 Fire Decisions

The Bureau of Indian Affairs has reduced the amount of damages but still agreed with the BIA’s Yakama Agency assertion that Klickitat PUD was responsible for the Mile Marker 28 fire in 2013.  Nearly two years ago the PUD had appealed the Yakama Agency determination that the PUD failed to remove trees near distribution lines, leading to the fire.  The PUD claims that’s based on a Washington Department of Natural Resources report it believes was flawed and unreliable.  Klickitat PUD says it will appeal the BIA decision in July to the Department of the Interior’s Board of Indian Appeals, saying the latest decision was made without any hearing to present evidence or provide any opportunity to present testimony and cross-examine DNR investigators or other witnesses.  The PUD believes a tribal logging contractor’s crew working adjacent to PUD power lines when the fire started caused the blaze, and also did not or delayed reporting when two trees caught fire.  The BIA reduced the damages claim from $65.5 million to $58.4 million.  A federal government claim has also been filed in federal court, and the PUD says it will “vigorously defend itself.”