News for those who live, work and play in the Santiam Canyon

Lumber companies seek millions in damages

Two local timber companies are going to trial against PacifiCorp in April amid efforts to speed up resolution of claims against the power utility over the 2020 wildfires.

A seven-day trial is scheduled to begin April 22, 2024, in Multnomah County Circuit Court for claims filed by Freres Timber Inc., of Lyons, and C.W. Specialty Lumber Inc., of Mill City.

The companies filed suit in 2022 claiming significant losses from the Santiam Fire.

Freres is seeking $20 million for damage to 7,000 acres of timberland, as well as work stoppages at its mills and the displacement of many of its 450 employees.

C.W. is seeking $12 million for the destruction of the mill where it employed 24 people, and $2 million for lost profits after the business permanently closed following the fire. Sister company Cooper Wagner Properties LLC is also seeking $300,000 for the destruction of 30 acres of timberland.

Plaintiffs have asked for twice the damages sought under an Oregon law allowing double damages when wildfires are caused by negligence.

A Portland jury found PacifiCorp liable June 12 for negligently causing the Santiam, 242, Echo Mountain and Obenchain fires during high heat and wind conditions Sept. 7, 2020. A class of 5,000 plaintiffs is now seeking individual damages including Freres and C.W., whose cases were consolidated in March with lead case James et al vs. PacifiCorp.

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