DENVER — The San Miguel Power Association has agreed to pay $1.275 million for damages related to the 2010 Beaver Fire as part of a settlement, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced Thursday.

The Beaver Fire started on May 22, 2010, when two cottonwood trees fell across an electrical power line owned and operated by San Miguel Power, the DOJ said. It burned about 2,600 acres of public and National Forest System lands near Norwood in San Miguel County. The United States incurred substantial costs in suppressing the fire.

The DOJ said the fire was caused by San Miguel Power Association’s failure to properly inspect the area adjacent to its power lines. The trees fell across the line were visibly decayed and should have been identified as hazards and removed prior to the fire, according to the DOJ.

“Today’s recovery helps offset the financial cost to the public of fire suppression,” said BLM Colorado State Director Jamie Connell. “On behalf of the many firefighters who worked on these and other fires in the West, we appreciate a resolution that benefits the public, the public’s land, and the multiple uses public lands support in Colorado.”

The settlement resolves the allegations, the DOJ said, however, the San Miguel Power Association denies all liability or wrongdoing for causing the fire.

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