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 firstname.lastname@example.org.