Homeowners blame DNR for allowing the Carlton Complex fire to ge - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

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Homeowners blame DNR for allowing the Carlton Complex fire to get out of control

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In legal papers filed Friday by Brewster attorney Alex Thomason 65 homeowners are blaming the Washington Department of Natural Resources for not being more aggressive in fighting the Carlton Complex in the early stages. (PHOTO from KHQ viewer) In legal papers filed Friday by Brewster attorney Alex Thomason 65 homeowners are blaming the Washington Department of Natural Resources for not being more aggressive in fighting the Carlton Complex in the early stages. (PHOTO from KHQ viewer)
BREWSTER, Wash. -

In legal papers filed Friday by Brewster attorney Alex Thomason, 65 homeowners are blaming the Washington Department of Natural Resources for not being more aggressive in fighting the Carlton Complex in the early stages. Those homeowners are preparing to sue the state for damages. 

The tort claim filed by Thomason and other attorneys in the case accuses the DNR, which led fire fighting efforts, of negligence and failing to protect properties from the more than 250 thousand acre wildfire which burned around 300 homes. 

The fire which was started by a lighting strike on July 14th became Washington's largest wildfire ever. 

"This is not about firefighters, even the DNR fire fighters. This is about DNR bureaucrats." Thomason told KHQ's Dylan Wohlenhaus. The tort claims filed in Olympia on Friday claim the DNR did not do enough to prevent the fire from spreading just hours after the initial lighting strikes.

KHQ did hear complaints from homeowners when the fire raged through Okanogan County in July. Some people said there was too much bureaucratic oversight in determining which land DNR officials were responsible for fighting the fire. 

"We believe evidence shows that the DNR profited from letting these fires grow. They use this as a forestry management tool. The result has been that all out communities burned." Thomason said. 

With the 65 homeowners filing the claims, Thomason says the damages could be in upwards of $15 million property owners are seeking. He also says that number will rise since more people are expected to get on board with potential litigation.

KHQ reached out to DNR officials in Olympia on Monday. In a message returned from DNR spokeswoman Sandra Kaiser she said the DNR will not comment on potential legal action and in a statement said "Carlton Complex was a natural disaster of terrible magnitude. Local, state and federal fire fighters along with private citizens did all they could to put out that fire. It's because of their courage and hard work that no one perished in those flames. Firefighters must always put human safety first when it comes to fighting those fires. It's heartbreaking to lose a home but even worse to lose a life."

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