Logging Company Billed $600,000 for Negligence in Germann Road Fire

By KBJR News 1

September 9, 2013 Updated Sep 9, 2013 at 10:19 PM CST

(NNCNOW.com) --- A central Wisconsin commercial logging company has been fined more than a half million dollars for negligence during the Germann Road Fire.

This decision comes after a nearly four month investigation by the Wisconsin DNR.

Ray Duerr Logging, will be billed for more than $600,000 after the WI DNR's investigation determined the company caused the Germann Road Forest Fire to start and spread.

In May, the Germann Road fire burned nearly 7,500 in Douglas County and destroyed nearly 50 structures.

Ray Duerr Logging was harvesting timber on industrial timber lands when the fire started and they told officials they couldn't contain the blaze.

After investigating, DNR officials determined that the logging company, withheld information, failing to mention there was a pressurized water system onboard the harvesting equipment.

The day the fire started, DNR officials say the crew had attempted to use the water system to put out the fire and the water dribbled out, because it had not been properly pressurized.

Investigators say the presence of the water system and the attempt to use it was concealed from them until June 27, when it was tested with the department, insurance investigators, attorneys, and engineers present.

"The operator had actually tried to use it as we followed up in that regard,” Trent Marty, WI DNR Bureau of Forest Protection Director said. “So they were aware that the system was there and what it was there for. They just did not have it properly, in operational condition on the day of the fire."

DNR spokespeople say logging company officials eventually admitted to the DNR they didn't know if the pressurized water system worked and that they had never tested it.

The investigation finally determined the cause of the fire was accidental and efforts were made by Ray Duerr Logging to suppress the blaze.

But the DNR says steps should have been taken in the preparedness and maintenance of the logging company's equipment.

The Germann Road Fire was the state’s largest in 33 years.

The fire began on May 14 and burned an area nearly 10 miles long and a mile and a half wide before it was contained a day later.

Jennifer Walch
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