Pacific Power denies liability in deadly 2020 wildfires


Wyatt Tofte, 13, and his grandmother died in the Labor Day wildfires of 2020

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A utility company is denying negligence in the catastrophic wildfires that tore through Santiam Canyon in September of 2020.

The unprecedented Labor Day wildfires torched more than a million acres and left 11 people dead. In September, the surviving relatives of four victims filed two separate lawsuits accusing Pacific Power of negligence.

One of the lawsuits was filed by the parents of 13-year-old Wyatt Tofte, who perished along with his 71-year-old grandmother, Peggy Mosso, and his dog on Sept. 9, 2020. His mother, Angie Mosso, was found by her husband — crawling along the road and burned beyond recognition.

The family’s lawsuit against Pacific Power accuses the corporation of “failing to completely de-energize (sic) its powerlines when it knew, or should have known of the extreme fire hazard presented by energized power lines.”

In a 20-page response dated Oct. 7, Pacific Power agrees the Santiam Fire started as a result of the Beachie Creek Fire, which was caused by a lightning strike. But the corporation stated that “damages, if any, were caused by an unavoidable accident or Act of God.”

Pacific Power also denied liability, saying the injuries occurred several miles outside of its service territory.

The second lawsuit against Pacific Power — filed by a man who lost his 41-year-old brother and 71-year-old mother in the Beachie Creek Fire — also alleges negligence and demands a jury trial.

KOIN 6 News has reached out to the families’ attorneys for comment and has not yet received a response.

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