Judge dismisses Yarnell Hill fire homeowners' suits
Judge Richard Gama said the state didn't have a duty to protect private property owners
PRESCOTT, Ariz. — Yarnell residents are appealing the dismissal of two lawsuits against the state, but a legal expert says it's rare for the government to be successfully sued over its handling of wildfires.
On Wednesday, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Richard Gama said the state did not have a duty to protect private property owners when the state's Forestry Division managed the June 2013 Yarnell Hill Fire.
"Public policy does not support imposition of a duty on the state to protect plaintiffs' property from wildfires," Gama wrote in dismissing both suits. Craig Knapp, the attorney representing the Yarnell homeowners, said the judge's ruling is "really bad news" for many Arizonans who live in wildland and fire zones.