Colo. Tepee Owner Joins Legal Battle Over Wildfire

July 20, 2004

A woman who lost her tepee in a 2002 wildfire has joined other homeowners in trying to get money from builders who are blamed for starting the blaze.

Leda Brewer is seeking $15,000 in Garfield County Court, Colo., to make up for the tepee and all the possessions it held but she may not be able to collect any money until the larger cases are settled.

Thirty-four homeowners along with insurance companies and federal agencies are seeking a total of $8 million in state and federal court from a construction company and its subcontractor. Investigators say a spark from a saw at a construction site started the blaze.

Their lawsuits have been combined into one lawsuit that is scheduled to go to trial in May 2005 in state district court in Garfield County. Then there will be separate trials later next year to determine damages.

Glenn Gazley Construction, Mendoza Concrete and the owners of construction site – Hans and Corinne Brucker – have denied responsibility for the fire.

Brewer had a hearing set for this month but Gazley asked that it be delayed until after a mediation conference in federal court. The company’s insurer, American Family Insurance, says that the damage caused by the fire should be considered one incident which would limit the amount it has to pay out to $2 million.

A Garfield County judge said the company should be able to proceed with that case first and rescheduled Brewer’s hearing for November.

Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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