The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection filed a lawsuit this week against a former Cambria resident, seeking fire cost recoveries of more than $65,000 for a July 18, 2017 fire in Cambria, according to court documents.
The complaint alleges Andrew William Dreyfus sparked the Bridge Fire when he “negligently and in violation of law was engaged in a metal-grinding operation that emitted sparks and/or hot metallic pieces,” landing on the grass.
The subsequent fire burned 3.7 acres, including property that Dreyfus did not own, according to the complaint.
CAL FIRE’s investigation reportedly found Dreyfus was performing a grinding operation to repair the mower on a tractor. In the complaint, it says Dreyfus admitted on a 911 call that he was “not paying attention to what he was doing and started the fire.”
A number of resources including fire engines, aircraft, water tenders, bulldozers, and hand crews assisted in extinguishing the fire.
The complaint argues “wildland fires such as the Bridge Fire do not happen unless someone was negligent.” It claims Dreyfus violated a number of Public Resources Code sections, including not clearing away all flammable material for a distance of 10 feet without maintaining a shovel or type of extinguisher in the immediate area.
The entire cost, CAL FIRE says, for the work was $65,532.54 and was “a result of the wrongful conduct of Dreyfus.”
CAL FIRE sent Dreyfus a letter of demand of payment for the costs both in November 2018 and March 2019. Dreyfus has not paid anything, according to court documents.
When reached by phone Friday, Dreyfus told KSBY News he has heard about the complaint but has not seen it.
He says he received a letter of demand for payment a few months ago and it’s in the hands of his insurance company. The insurance is through his business, Dryfus said.
He said he has not lived in the area for some time and was not a permanent resident at the time the fire started.
The case will be heard in front of Judge Linda Hurst in San Luis Obispo County.