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Two more insurers seek money for Herriman fire

Published September 18, 2013 12:05 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Two insurance companies filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday asking the U.S. Army and the Army National Guard for reimbursement of $1.3 million it paid owners of property damaged by the 2010 Machine Gun Fire in Herriman.

Farmers Insurance and State Farm allege the two entities have acknowledged that if they had checked fire warnings — which listed fire danger as extreme — they would not have conducted the training exercise.

Last year, two other insurance companies filed lawsuits against the federal entities after they refused to reimburse $785,000 in payments made to 21 homeowners as a result of the fire. Those companies also allege negligence because the Army allowed a live-fire exercise to take place during extreme fire conditions.

The fire started on Sept. 19, 2010, at the Army's Camp Williams during a Utah National Guard machine gun training exercise. The new lawsuit alleges officials failed to check fire warnings before allowing the live-fire exercise to proceed. It eventually burned 4,300 acres, destroyed three homes and caused substantial damage to others; more than 1,600 homes were evacuated during the fire, the lawsuit says.

The court filing says a guard official acknowledged during a 2010 press conference a day after the fire began that "we had a communication error. My military people were unaware of [the fire danger warning]. We should have been aware of it."

A colonel admitted in an Oct. 19, 2010, memo that errors that allowed the live-fire exercise to proceed were " the result of procedural failure and human errors within our systems."

The National Guard said last year it had paid out more than $4 million to resolve nearly all of the 1,300 claims it received after the fire.

brooke@sltrib.com