Five sue National Guard over 2010 Herriman fire

Published: Tuesday, March 4 2014 6:30 p.m. MST

Fire ravages Herriman homes Sunday night, Sept. 19, 2010 after a wildfire sparked by machine gun fire at an artillery range on Camp Williams went out of control.

Richard Bart Green/Don Green Photography.

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HERRIMAN — Five landowners in Herriman have filed a lawsuit against the United States and the Army National Guard over a 2010 fire started during a firearms training at Camp Williams.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court Monday by Brandon Frank, Willis Weight, Ryan Frank, Christian Larsen and Hyrum Weight who live in Herriman or are trustees over land there. They are alleging negligence and negligent infliction of emotional distress and are asking for money damages, attorney fees and any other relief deemed proper by the court.

The Utah National Guard started the fire Sept. 19, 2010, while conducting live-firing exercises at Camp Williams. The lawsuit states that two groups were training on a range that day despite "extreme" fire danger and that one brigade was training on a live .50-caliber machine gun.

Known as the Machine Gun Fire, the blaze eventually consumed 4,300 acres, burned down three houses and forced the evacuation of at least 1,600 homes. The Guard accepted responsibility for the fire and within days set up a claims center for residents whose homes or property were damaged.

The lawsuit contends that the Guard failed to consider the weather and fire hazard before conducting the training exercise and that a Camp Williams fire crew was present when the fire began, but did not tackle the fire or prevent its spread. The lawsuit also states that the plaintiffs presented their claims "to the appropriate federal agency" on four different occasions, but have not received "final disposition of their claims."

Martin Banks, one of two attorneys who filed the lawsuit, refused to answer questions about it Tuesday. He would not comment on the case, its background or the fire's impact on the plaintiffs, stating that he would not be able to comment for two weeks.

Lt. Col. Hank McIntire, spokesman for the Utah National Guard, said it does not comment on pending lawsuits as a matter of standard practice.

Email: emorgan@deseretnews.com

Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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