Avista Faces Lawsuits Over Washington State Fire

by Warren Seah

Avista, a provider of electricity and natural gas in eastern Washington state, is currently facing 11 lawsuits related to a devastating fire that occurred in September 2020. The fire spanned approximately 15,000 acres and destroyed around 220 structures in Washington state.

According to Avista, the fire was triggered by a severe windstorm in eastern Washington and northern Idaho. The company stated that a report from the Washington Department of Natural Resources determined that the fire started when a branch from a ponderosa pine tree was broken off by the wind and fell onto an Avista power distribution line. The report also suggested that a closer inspection of the tree should have been conducted.

Avista maintains that the applicable inspection standards did not require closer scrutiny of the otherwise healthy tree, and the company denies any negligence in its maintenance, inspection, or vegetation management practices. It is prepared to vigorously defend itself in the legal proceedings.

Consolidation of all the lawsuits is currently underway for discovery and pre-trial proceedings. An order has been entered by the Superior Court of Spokane County, Washington, which consolidates and bifurcates the trial into liability and damages phases. The initial phase will solely focus on determining whether the defendants are legally responsible for the Babb Road Fire.

Avista will actively participate in the legal process with confidence in its position.

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