Stillwater News Press

Local News

September 20, 2012

Dozens more fire victims file suit

STILLWATER, Okla. — A large group of fire victims filed a lawsuit against pipeline companies they allege are responsible for a wildfire that destroyed dozens of homes and thousands of acres in Glencoe.

The 27 defendants are seeking damages in excess of $75,000, plus court costs, prejudgment interest, post-judgment interest and attorney fees from Global Pipeline Construction LLC, IPS Engineering EPC and IPS Engineering LLC.

The suit’s petition alleges the defendants started a fire on Aug. 4 when workers were grinding and welding on a section of pipeline in Glencoe, court records show. The petition states the fire caused damage to plaintiffs’ homes, barns, outbuildings, real property, timber, grasslands, cattle and personal property. The suit also states the fire has caused a loss of income and other damages.

The suit stated the defendants acted with negligence, indifference and recklessness in performing work on the pipeline.

This is the second lawsuit to be brought against pipeline companies in connection with the fire. On Wednesday, three victims filed a class-action lawsuit alleging worker negligence caused the Aug. 4 fire.

They also are seeking in excess of $75,000 in damages.

 The fire burned  2,000 acres and destroyed at least 17 homes, fire officials said.

The Payne County Sheriff’s Department and State Fire Marshal investigated the wildfire but could not determine the cause.

Pipeline workers questioned by the sheriff’s department stated they did not see the fire ignite. The report states that workers said they had taken precautions to prevent a fire and attempted to put it out with fire extinguishers.

According to Oklahoma Forestry Services burn ban guidelines those welding, torching, cutting and grinding have to adhere to three rules:

• Welding must be conducted over a non-combustible surface of at least 10 feet by 10 feet or welding blankets or screens should be used to cover flammable vegetation.

• Wind speeds must be less than 20 miles per hour.

• A fire watch, other than the welder, must be posted at the welding/torch cutting site with pressurized water or fire extinguisher.

Fire investigation reports show one worker said he was on fire watch, one said everyone was on fire watch and eight said either they don’t know or no one was on fire watch.

Workers stated the crew had removed grass with equipment and used a wind board to block sparks, the report states. Workers estimated winds that day ranged anywhere from 10 to 25 miles per hour, the report states.

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