DNR's investigation points to Yakima Police officers for cause of South Wenas Fire
SELAH, Wash.- The South Wenas fire burned for four days and needed resources from the U.S. Forest Service, Department of Natural Resources and almost every upper valley fire department to be put out.
Seven months after the fire was contained, DNR released their report that said it was started by members of the Yakima SWAT team doing sniper rifle qualifications.
The report states one of the bullets ricocheted off a metal object behind the target, hit a power line and started the South Wenas fire.
The report also said the officers didn't know they had started the fire until someone else pointed it out.
Pacific Power owns the power lines that were hit and said they suffered over $100,000 of damages.
Spokesman Tom Gauntt said the company is looking to recover some of that money.
“Whenever we can, if negligence can be shown, we try to protect the customers from having to bear the cost to repair and maintain the system,” he said.
Yakima’s city attorney told KIMA the city hasn't been sued yet but they have been preparing for claims to be filed since June of last year.
People with DNR said they will work with Washington State's Attorney General Office to see if they are going to file a claim to recoup $200,000 in firefighting costs.
The two officers who the report said started the fire, are two of the five officers who have been put on leave for officer involved shootings during the last week of December.