Settlement reached in wildfire case

Posted: Friday, August 29, 2008

FAIRBANKS - A $400,000 settlement has been reached in a court case stemming from a 2006 Parks Highway fire.

State officials said the deal releases from liability a property owner who accidentally started the 130,000-acre blaze, which cost the state $2.9 million to suppress.

The state said it is in line to receive $90,000 of the court-ordered award.

The state Division of Forestry said five other parties also will receive money through the settlement, which wrapped up in court late last week.

The state sued the property owner in 2006.

Court documents identify Thad Kolwicz, a one-time lieutenant colonel in the Alaska Air National Guard, as the man who started the fire. He was accused of sparking the blaze by dumping ashes on his property near Anderson.

The fire burned between Anderson and Nenana through much of the summer.

Some neighborhoods were evacuated and resulting legal claims added up to more than $14 million.

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