Yarnell Hill Fire: Lawyer for Prescott responds to notice of claimsPosted: Updated:
The mother of a fallen Prescott Granite Mountain Hotshot is claiming the state of Arizona, Yavapai County and the city of Prescott's negligence led to her son's death, and the attorney for Prescott is responding, saying her claims are without merit.
Marcia McKee filed a notice of claim with the city clerk last month, the first step in what could be a multi-million dollar lawsuit for the loss of her son, Grant McKee.
Attorney Larry J. Crown is representing the city of Prescott. In a letter to McKee's attorneys on Wednesday, Crown said the Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health (ADOSH) report, referenced by McKee, does not cite the city of Prescott as being at fault in the 19 firefighters' deaths.
"To the extent it is relied upon by Ms. McKee in her Amended Notice of Claim, the ADOSH report supports the city of Prescott's position that there is no merit to any claim against the city of Prescott for civil damages arising out of the Yarnell Hill Fire," Crown said in a letter to McKee's lawyer.
Marcia McKee's intent demands millions from 13 public parties including the city of Prescott, Yavapai County and the state of Arizona. Marcia McKee's attorneys are offering those parties a way out - in a $12 million settlement if they agree to pool the money together in one lump sum.
The notice states the Prescott Fire Department and the Forestry Division did not follow Standard Firefighting Orders.
Marcia McKee claims her son and his 18 fellow crew members died "because the city of Prescott, Yavapai County and the state of Arizona violated all 10 of the nationally recognized 'Standard Firefighting Orders.'"
The 10 Standard Firefighting Orders, as listed in the claim, are:
- Keep informed on fire weather conditions and forecasts.
- Know what your fire is doing at all times.
- Base all actions on current and expected behavior of the fire.
- Identify escape routes and safety zones and make them known.
- Post lookouts when there is possible dangers.
- Be alert. Keep calm. Think clearly. Act decisively.
- Maintain prompt communications with your forces, your supervisor and adjoining forces.
- Give clear instructions and insure they are understood.
- Maintain control of your forces at all times.
- Fight fire aggressively, having provided for safety first.
Marcia McKee claims her son's death was preventable.
A recent report deflects blame from any parties, but Marcia McKee's attorneys say the report is a "whitewash" and includes "misleading" information. [Click here to read the full report]
Crown also responded to notices of claim by Yarnell homeowners who say they suffered property damage and emotional stress from the fire and allege neglect by the city of Prescott.
"The city of Prescott is not liable to the Yarnell Homeowners Claimants because it did not act intentionally, recklessly or negligently with regard to that circumstances that are alleged to have resulted in property damage, lost income in some cases, and emotional distress damages," Crown said.
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