County Commission Bills Union Pacific $10,362 for Fires

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GREEN RIVER — The Sweetwater County Commissioners approved billing the Union Pacific Railroad to the tune of $10,362.31 for damages and personnel to put out the recent Tipton fires.

This action was taken at today’s regular meeting after an executive session with County Fire Warden Mike Bournazian, who was just out all night putting out another set of fires in the same area last night.

The fires east of Rock Springs were started October 23 by the Union Pacific Railroad cutting track.

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The 459-acre Tipton Fire covered 5 miles in a just a couple hours.

At the previous meeting when they decided to pursue billing, Commissioner Randy Wendling had said Union Pacific Railroad was cutting track in 50 mph winds.

“I think we should bill them,” said Commissioner Wally Johnson.

Wendling said that Sweetwater County has never billed the UP in the past, but other counties do. Carbon County bills UP for fires and those bills get paid.

Wendling also said this would be setting a precedent if they do bill. Union Pacific will likely also bill for the loss of power line poles and BLM also had some costs from the fires.

“Until they get a bill, they aren’t going to change their practices,” said Commissioner John Kolb.