Every year landowners and citizens of Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas, and Oklahoma suffer the devastation and financial loss of wildfires. Winds and drought conditions across the area often warn of a bad fire season to follow. The attorneys at Lovell, Lovell, Isern and Farabough know how to help landowners and families faced with the tremendous losses that often follow wind-driven wildfires.
It takes knowledge and experience to determine the cause of a wildfire and responsibility for its harm. Joe Lovell, Kevin Isern, and Brian Farabough lead the firm’s wildland fire practice along with experienced wildfire experts, engineers, agronomists, arborists, soil experts, and dedicated staff.
Borger Wildfire – Kathy Ryan and Bill Pfeffer
The Borger Wildfire in March of 2006 caused the tragic loss of 12 lives and burned a path 30 miles wide and 50 miles long. This wildfire was a perfect example of how one faulty powerline to a pumpjack can spark such catastrophic loss. Our firm represented burned-out ranchers and cattlemen from where the fire started in Carson County (the 6666 Ranch), and along the fire’s path to where it was finally stopped – almost 50 miles away – in Hemphill County (the Mendota Ranch).
We also represented the families of two people who died in that fire. Kathy Ryan died a hero while helping rescue her elderly neighbors, Bill and Oleta Pfeffer, who lived at the Borger Greenhouse. She helped get 91-year-old Oleta Pfeffer out of the house and into a vehicle with James Cornelius, who both made it out alive. Tragically, Kathy and 84-year-old Bill Pfeffer were unable to escape when her pickup would not start as the flames in the surrounding trees sucked up the available oxygen.
The family of Kathy Ryan was determined not to let the tragic loss of their mother be in vain. In partnership with our firm, the Amarillo Area Foundation, and Kathy Ryan’s children, a fund was set up to benefit volunteer fire departments in the Texas Panhandle. Panhandle volunteer fire departments can find out how to apply for grants from the Kathy Ryan Fund here.
Dumas Wildfire – Elias Macias
In 2011 the Cactus Volunteer Fire Department lost volunteer fire fighter Elias Macias when his fire truck was overrun by the April 9th fire, south of Dumas, Texas. Our firm represented the Macias family against the gas producer whose faulty power lines sparked that blaze. Together with Mr. Macias’ family, our firm also donated significant funds to join with the Kathy Ryan Fund to support training programs for fire fighters throughout the rural Texas Panhandle.
Property Losses from Wildfire
Loss of life is not the only tragedy to follow wildland fires. For Landowners, the damages to their grass, buildings, fences, and equipment creates an expensive burden. The damage to the field cannot be overcome just because the fire is out, and pastures that once sustained livestock become filled with opportunistic weeds and scrub. Without healthy plant growth, the land suffers increased erosion damage as well. The loss of livestock, fences, equipment, and damage to the land itself requires extensive and expensive restoration and remediation. The loss of trees, so valuable in these plains, creates special challenges for lawyers representing landowners. Specialized knowledge and experience make a difference. Lovell, Lovell, Isern and Farabough has the decades of experience, depth of knowledge, and available resources to fight for fair recoveries. We have assisted numerous landowners to recover fair damages for the losses to their property. We can help you too.
Wildfire Damage Lawyers
If you or someone you know is affected by a wildland fire, first do whatever is reasonably necessary to safely protect lives and property. Once your physical safety is secured, it is important to act quickly to preserve evidence. TAKE AS MANY PHOTOGRAPHS AS YOU CAN AS SOON AS POSSIBLE! Repairs and replacement of power lines and other equipment around the area of origin can occur within moments of the fire. Critical pieces of evidence can be (and commonly are) tossed into a post hole or the back of a truck. Take photographs of everything, from many different positions, including any vehicles on the scene and their tags. To the extent you can, prevent anyone from moving, destroying, or changing things at the scene until it can be adequately investigated. Make notes of everyone you see at the scene and what they did or said. You can contact our firm to discuss getting someone out to the scene to preserve evidence and, if warranted, arrange for a fire investigator to examine the scene.
A plane drops red fire retardant on the 294 Fire, a wildfire affecting almost 11,000 acres of land southeast of Amarillo, TX in 2018.