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Logging firm to pay $600,000 for starting Germann Road Fire in May

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In this photo taken May 14, 2013 from Connors Meadow Road, The Germann Road Fire crowns through young red pine in Douglas County. (courtesy of the Wisconsin DNR).
Photo taken of Germann Road Fire (courtesy of the Wisconsin DNR).
In this photo taken May 14, 2013 from Connors Meadow Road, The Germann Road Fire crowns through young red pine in Douglas County. (courtesy of the Wisconsin DNR).

MADISON, Wis. (WSAU) - A logging firm has been fined heavily for causing a northern Wisconsin forest fire that burned over 74-hundred acres in northern Wisconsin four months ago.

Department of Natural Resources officials say Ray Duerr Logging will have to pay $600,000 to pay for the efforts to fight the fire, which started when their harvesting equipment ignited the dry forest bed off of Germann Road near Gordon May 14th.

DNR Bureau of Forest Protection director Trent Marty says the fine comes after Ray Duerr Logging failed to keep a fire suppression system working on its equipment. "There's an opportunity that that equipment can cause fires, and that's what the suppression equipment is for. And it was not fully charged or operational."

Investigation showed that the crew had attempted to contain the fire using a fire extinguisher and a pressurized water system installed on the harvesting equipment and called 911, but the company was negligent for failing to maintain equipment at the logging site that could have prevented, or contained the fire.

DNR officials determined that the crew tried to use the water system on their harvestor to extinguish the fire, but water “dribbled out” since it had not been pressurized. Investigators also found the Timberjack 840 was last inspected in 2010, and loggers are supposed to have equipment inspected annually.

Marty says that the DNR had not been planning to levy the fine in this case until it came to light that the logging company tried to cover up the lack of maintenance on their equipment. No criminal charges will be filed. "There was no willful intent on setting the fire, so basically on our end it's just billing the party responsible for the fire."

Forty-seven structures were destroyed, including 17 homes or cabins, in the Towns of Gordon and Highland.

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