Colorado Resort Files Lawsuit Against Railroad for 2018 Fire

June 5, 2020

DURANGO, Colo. — An insurance company representing a Colorado resort filed a lawsuit against the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad for damage costs associated with an extended wildfire.

Purgatory Resort’s insurance provider submitted the claim shortly before the end of a two-year statute of limitations, The Durango Herald reports.

The filing by Granite State Insurance Co. of New York claims the ski resort in Durango sustained financial losses after it was forced to shut down as a result of the wildfire.

The fire began in June 2018 and burned nearby for nearly two months, consuming 84 square miles (218 square kilometers) primarily in the Hermosa Creek watershed.

The fire started about 10 miles (16 kilometers) north of Durango near the railroad’s tracks.

Federal officials determined the railroad caused the fire when a coal-burning locomotive emitted a cinder in an area experiencing extreme drought.

The insurance company claims that shortly before the blaze the railroad fired a significant portion of its pop car crew, which follows the train and puts out fires, replacing the workers with “less experienced” personnel.

“Purgatory’s property and business were damaged as a result of the 416 Fire, including but not limited to, smoke and ash flows, loss of business revenue, diminished property values and economic harm,” the lawsuit says.

Granite State and Purgatory Resort did not immediately return requests for additional comment. The railroad also did not respond to a request for comment.

In other cases stemming from the fire, a federal court judge this week threw out the railroad’s motion to dismiss a U.S. government lawsuit against the company, while a lawsuit on behalf of residents and businesses affected by the first fire has been delayed.

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