Friday, August 29, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

State Farm sues city, 2 state agencies over Marigold Fire

19 marigold fire update 1

A house is under construction along the site of the Marigold Fire in Fairfield, Wednesday. (Aaron Rosenblatt/Daily Republic)

By
From page A1 | June 19, 2014 |

FAIRFIELD — State Farm Insurance and homeowners along Marigold Drive, contending mismanagement of public lands off Interstate 80 and at a drainage easement resulted in highly dangerous conditions, sued Fairfield and two state agencies for damages from the August 2013 Marigold Fire that destroyed five homes and damaged 10 others.

The suit, filed Monday in Solano County Superior Court, seeks more than $500,000 in damages.

Winds up to 15 mph were blowing Aug. 27 when the shoulder along the interstate ignited and the fire spread because of overgrown dry grass and weeds, according to the lawsuit.

Flames spread from the I-80 shoulder to the sound wall, burned more vegetation, reached the overgrown area behind homes and “ultimately became a seven-alarm conflagration,” the suit adds.

The California Department of Transportation failed to control vegetation along the interstate, while a locked gate and chain-link fence restricted access by residents to a drainage easement next to the sound wall and prevented the clearing of brush, the suit states. Fairfield owns the drainage easement and posted signs advising “No trespassing” and noting the Penal Code section for those who enter the property, according to the suit.

The state Department of Water Resources, along with Caltrans, also allowed dangerous vegetation to accumulate at the easement, the suit contends.

Fairfield previously managed vegetation in the easement but stopped such work about four years before the fire, according to the suit. Conditions precipitated the fire’s spread to the homes State Farm insured, the suit adds.

An Oct. 10 case management conference is scheduled in the suit.

Assistant City Manager David White declined to comment about the lawsuit. A state Department of Water Resources representative said the agency has not seen the suit and could not comment on it. A Caltrans spokesman said it’s department policy not to comment on pending litigation.

Reach Ryan McCarthy at 427-6935 or rmccarthy@dailyrepublic.net.

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Discussion | 18 comments

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  • Anita SpencerJune 19, 2014 - 8:03 am

    Mr White Maybe you and some. of the other city management and code enforcemet should get out and do something about the way our city looks. Walk along some of the streets. You will see all kinds of garbage everywhere and fields that are not mowed when needed. I hope the insurance company wins this suit if for no other reason than to teach you people that are supposed to be looking out for your city that you are not doing your jobs. Code enforcement could site Walmart, Bank of America, and many other businesses along north texas St. The bike paths are never mowed or cleaned. It is embarassing to live in a community where trash is the norm.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Mr. PracticalJune 19, 2014 - 7:09 pm

    Most of the financial responsibility should be with the California Department of Transportation. They are liable for the the proximate cause. Has the area along the freeway been properly maintain the city issue would be moot.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • mdsJune 19, 2014 - 8:04 pm

    Have you been watching the news lately? There was a big recession in case you missed it and the City had to cut the budget and slash positions. So now this lawsuit will do nothing but take more money from the City so even less services will be available.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Douglas LangillJune 19, 2014 - 8:41 am

    Anita I agree with you 100 percent. And if you call them, they will give you evey excuse on why they can not respond or do their job.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Seriously.....June 19, 2014 - 9:23 am

    Funny this story should run today....while walking my dog last night on the walking trail behind Cordelia Villages, I was wondering to myself if the City was responsible for mowing down weeds. It's a fricken tinder box of dry 2ft tall weeds from one end of the path to the other, much like the picture here in this story.....yikes!! Hmmm, we should just start posting such pictures on their Facebook page, maybe they will take notice. There is a lot of beautiful landscapes in Fairfield but unfortunately the garbage and weeds are starting to overrun.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Danny BuntinJune 19, 2014 - 10:25 am

    Still waiting to hear from all the supposed "less government" crew. Speak up!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • mdsJune 19, 2014 - 8:07 pm

    They only want less government until the want the government to do something for them.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • P.J.June 19, 2014 - 10:55 am

    Does anyone remember the prisoners from the local jails doing road clean-up, cutting weeds, etc.? Has it become illegal to sentence offenders to community service? Also, high school students now must perform some hours of community service. Could the city ask for help from them? Along our roads there is trash everywhere! I also need to add that a couple of those homes didn't have to burn. There were hoses in the yards and the owner of one house wanted to wet down the large trees. At that time the fire was way down the street, but the officer threatened to arrest the home owner if he crossed the street and picked up the hose. Where is common sense?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • MDSJune 19, 2014 - 8:06 pm

    A garden hose wetting down trees would have done nothing to stop the fire.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • BePartOfTheSolutionJune 19, 2014 - 12:16 pm

    The city will not do a thing about the trash...I live near one of the creeks and the city does a pretty good job keeping the grass down. As for picking up the trash, people who live in the neighborhood come out with their own two hands wearing gloves and carrying garbage bags and we pick up the trash. Others from the community also come and join. So for the ones complaining about trash all over, grab a garbage bag and start picking it up!. Complaining does nothing, action on the other hands is much more effective!.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Rick WoodJune 19, 2014 - 1:21 pm

    If you haven't figured it out yet, "self help" is the order if the day in Fairfield except for law enforcement, emergency response, and a few other services.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • JimboJune 19, 2014 - 2:41 pm

    The homeowners planting those stupid cypress trees are just as much to blame. What did they expect planting a fire hazard right next to their houses?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Fire Marshal BillJune 19, 2014 - 6:07 pm

    You forgot to mention all the eucalyptus along the freeway and the drainage easement that had nothing to do with the Homeowners but where a big part of how this fire spread.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Joseph D. JoyceJune 19, 2014 - 5:12 pm

    It's time for a change fellow citizens. We need to clean house! New leaders, new planners, managers, etc... Look at what has become of this city! We are the only ones who can make a change in this, status quo. We want Fairfield to thrive, not survive! How many lawsuits have been filed or settled against this dysfunctional city in the last two years now?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • mike gregorJune 19, 2014 - 6:24 pm

    How about this "DON'T THROW YOUR BUTTS OUT THE CAR WINDOW !" . That's how the fire started I suspect

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Firefield's Finest, Mraz & CompanyJune 19, 2014 - 6:35 pm

    Fairfield’s poor management, useless “spend it even if you ain’t got it” city council, abuse of FF’s RDA that cost the city millions of dollars, councils failure to control the cost of “safety” while cutting other departments that used to do the weed-abatement on Fairfield’s lots like this, problems with contractors hired by city council. Now the city & city council is in “Band-Aid Mode” even with a 1 cent sales tax. Time for new faces on city council.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • JagJune 19, 2014 - 9:22 pm

    FF & Cal-trans,, you get together stop by Home Depot pick up some day labors and go chop a bunch of weeds,,,

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • mike gregorJune 20, 2014 - 7:53 pm

    There are a lot of high school summer program students that would love to be employed. Give them a weed wacker and 15.00 / hr. It's worth it

    Reply | Report abusive comment
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