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(NBC News)   U.S. Forest Service: Remember that 2012 Wyoming wildfire you started? Will you be paying the $6.3 million by check or cash?   (usnews.nbcnews.com) divider line 23
    More: Followup, Canadian Forest Service, Wyoming, US Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, wildfires, Bureau of Land Management  
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10285 clicks; posted to Main » on 09 Jan 2014 at 7:35 AM (28 weeks ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



Voting Results (Smartest)
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2014-01-09 08:00:18 AM
7 votes:

dittybopper: hardinparamedic: xanadian: So, what would the forest service people and the fire fighters have been doing if the fire hadn't happened? Would they still have their jobs and being paid for it, but just not fighting the wildfire?  I think it's wrong that they're getting MY tax dollars *and* charging some old dude at the same time.  It's like being paid twice for doing one job.

Most wildland firefighters are actually volunteers/paid-on-incident that have passed the physical and wildland training which the National Forrest Service requires. (Which is no joke.)

They don't have thousands of men just setting around somewhere on payroll.

That's true, but the money is allocated ahead of time.

Also, I could see charging him if it was intentional.  This wasn't intentionally set:  He was burning twigs and paper in a barrel, and at some point, the fire spread beyond the barrel.  He actually called 911 as soon as he noticed there was a problem.

I've got no problem with him being charged with leaving a fire unattended or whatever, or with charging people who intentionally set such fires, but bankrupting an old man just seems like the forest service is collectively being a douchebags.  Plus, they only gave him a month to pay it:  Sent him the bill in November, with a due date in December.  For probably more money than he's collectively made in his entire life.

Even if the bill eventually gets thrown out, he'll almost certainly have to hire a lawyer and spend a bunch of money he likely doesn't have to spare, so the end result is almost the same.

This is the kind of behavior on the part of government that would lead someone like him to set fires intentionally, because they no longer have anything left to lose, and fark you, they can cost the government even more money, in firefighting costs and in incarceration costs, and there is no way the government can make that back.


Its also the type of thing that would keep someone from calling 911 to report the small initial fire.
2014-01-09 07:17:12 AM
5 votes:
So, what would the forest service people and the fire fighters have been doing if the fire hadn't happened? Would they still have their jobs and being paid for it, but just not fighting the wildfire?  I think it's wrong that they're getting MY tax dollars *and* charging some old dude at the same time.  It's like being paid twice for doing one job.
2014-01-09 07:51:48 AM
4 votes:

hardinparamedic: xanadian: So, what would the forest service people and the fire fighters have been doing if the fire hadn't happened? Would they still have their jobs and being paid for it, but just not fighting the wildfire?  I think it's wrong that they're getting MY tax dollars *and* charging some old dude at the same time.  It's like being paid twice for doing one job.

Most wildland firefighters are actually volunteers/paid-on-incident that have passed the physical and wildland training which the National Forrest Service requires. (Which is no joke.)

They don't have thousands of men just setting around somewhere on payroll.


That's true, but the money is allocated ahead of time.

Also, I could see charging him if it was intentional.  This wasn't intentionally set:  He was burning twigs and paper in a barrel, and at some point, the fire spread beyond the barrel.  He actually called 911 as soon as he noticed there was a problem.

I've got no problem with him being charged with leaving a fire unattended or whatever, or with charging people who intentionally set such fires, but bankrupting an old man just seems like the forest service is collectively being a douchebags.  Plus, they only gave him a month to pay it:  Sent him the bill in November, with a due date in December.  For probably more money than he's collectively made in his entire life.

Even if the bill eventually gets thrown out, he'll almost certainly have to hire a lawyer and spend a bunch of money he likely doesn't have to spare, so the end result is almost the same.

This is the kind of behavior on the part of government that would lead someone like him to set fires intentionally, because they no longer have anything left to lose, and fark you, they can cost the government even more money, in firefighting costs and in incarceration costs, and there is no way the government can make that back.
2014-01-09 07:21:39 AM
4 votes:

xanadian: So, what would the forest service people and the fire fighters have been doing if the fire hadn't happened? Would they still have their jobs and being paid for it, but just not fighting the wildfire?  I think it's wrong that they're getting MY tax dollars *and* charging some old dude at the same time.  It's like being paid twice for doing one job.


Most wildland firefighters are actually volunteers/paid-on-incident that have passed the physical and wildland training which the National Forrest Service requires. (Which is no joke.)

They don't have thousands of men just setting around somewhere on payroll.
2014-01-09 06:42:45 AM
4 votes:
This is an outrage that a 77 year old man should get a 6.4 million dollar bill which he can't pay.

A complete outrage that, instead, he isn't in prison rotting the last few years of his life away. He can learn useful shankin' skills.
2014-01-09 10:14:24 AM
2 votes:

freewill: #1) Another house on this street is worth $1,500,000, so there's actually a decent chance that this guy does, in fact, have $6,000,000 somewhere.


He has money. I just wrote this long post speculating about how much money he has, but here's the story from the Jackson Hole paper from when the fire happened.

Link

His son wrote the apology letter--who also lives in Horsethief Canyon, and has been there for "over 30 years." His father is some old rancher who was gradually selling out his ranch, and he's probably worth quite a bit. It's not right in Jackson Hole, but due to the physical constraints of the area, even the areas outside of town are now worth quite a bit.

You don't fark around with fire if you live out west. There are fire warnings, wind warnings, fire restrictions, "red flag" warnings, rules about not driving your vehicles off-road when it gets dry, rules where you have to carry shovels and sand in case you ignite anything, warnings not to smoke outdoors. No one who lives out here is ignorant of fire danger. That's why this guy is absolutely groveling and falling all over himself to apologize
2014-01-09 08:02:08 AM
2 votes:

hardinparamedic: xanadian: So, what would the forest service people and the fire fighters have been doing if the fire hadn't happened? Would they still have their jobs and being paid for it, but just not fighting the wildfire?  I think it's wrong that they're getting MY tax dollars *and* charging some old dude at the same time.  It's like being paid twice for doing one job.

Most wildland firefighters are actually volunteers/paid-on-incident that have passed the physical and wildland training which the National Forrest Service requires. (Which is no joke.)

They don't have thousands of men just setting around somewhere on payroll.


The "physical" is a three mile walk with forty-five pounds in forty-five minutes with adjustments for elevation. Not that hard, and lots of out-of-shape people pass. The training takes a week, and you'd have to be pretty dumb to fail. You can actually take the course online now.

As for the cost, a huge chunk if that is aviation, most of which is contracted. A heavy tanker can cost tens of thousands of dollars per hour. Additionally, a lot of the overhead are retirees who only get paid when they're on incident. Their rates are pretty high, though no overtime rate. Factor in contract equipment and crews, overtime and hazard pay for federal firefighters, food, replacing and fixing broken stuff, etc., and it gets expensive really quick.
2014-01-09 08:00:32 AM
2 votes:

dittybopper: This wasn't intentionally set: He was burning twigs and paper in a barrel, and at some point, the fire spread beyond the barrel.


I think you misunderstand the word "intentional."  He didn't accidentally put twigs and paper in a barrel and accidentally set them on fire.  He was negligent in maintaining an intentional fire.

I don't think anyone expects to collect on the bill, but it is a pretty solid way to demonstrate how much damage someone can cause by not being responsible.
2014-01-09 07:50:16 AM
2 votes:
his homeowner's insurance company is reading that policy really carefully right now.
2014-01-09 02:01:25 PM
1 votes:

dittybopper: No property was damaged.


Uhh....  What?

dittybopper: If the guy was actually negligent in some way, I'm sure there is something they could charge him with, and like I've said multiple times, I'd support that if there was actual evidence of negligence, but it's been a year and a half since the fire and they haven't, at least based on TFA.


He started a fire during a burn ban, left it unattended, and it ended up burning down a huge area and costing millions of dollars to take care of it.

How is that NOT negligence?  Are you really this messed in the head or are you trolling?
2014-01-09 12:16:26 PM
1 votes:

trappedspirit: Plus, there's a difference between a stiff penalty and a totally bonkers never paying it off penalty.


If you don't want to be responsible for millions of dollars worth of damage, don't cause millions of dollars worth of damage.
2014-01-09 12:01:13 PM
1 votes:

log_jammin: His neighbor called.


And generally when you have fire get out of control, it is logical that you will get multiple calls.
2014-01-09 11:16:12 AM
1 votes:

dittybopper: kwame: Who gives a f*ck if he gets mad about the bill and starts setting fires?  That's not a normal human response to something like this, and if he's predisposed to do that, well that knocks the legs out from under your poor old forgetful man defense, doesn't it?

"Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats." 
― H.L. Mencken, Prejudices: First Series

The guy had a relatively small lapse of judgement, but he didn't compound it.  As soon as he noticed there was a problem, he called 911.

Nobody died.

No property was damaged.

If you accidentally start a fire in your house, does the local fire department send you a bill?  What if that fire spreads?

Of course they don't.  Because that defeats the societal purpose of having a either a volunteer or professional paid firefighting service.  At the very most they might send a bill to your insurance company.  But a quick scan of VF websites shows things like this:

If my insurance company does not pay the bill, will you send the bill to me? 
No. If the insurance company does not pay the bill for some reason, neither the fire department nor the billing company will invoice the homeowner.

If I do not have insurance on my home will the fire department bill me? 
No. You will not receive a bill but we strongly urge everyone to have some sort of insurance on their property or belongings. Insurance companies see renters insurance also.

You know, they *USED* to do that sort of thing, directly billing people for fires on their property (whether they were accidental or not).  It led to so many abuses that the practice was stopped.

But it's OK to do it to some likely semi-forgetful old man because why?

This is the very sort of thing that turns the average Joe against government.  If the guy was actually negligent in some way, I'm sure there is something they could charge him with, and like I've said multiple times, I'd support that if there was actual evidence of negligence, but it's been a year and a half since the fire and they haven't, at least based on TFA.  So this seems to be more of a non-judicial administrative "Fark you, we're the government, you must be *PUNISHED*".

The fact that it made the news shows you that it's unusual:  The media doesn't report on "dog bites man" stories.


No evidence of negligence?

The person INTENTIONALLY started a fire where the was a BAN in place due to the HIGH RISK of something like this happening and LEFT IT UNATTENDED.

That is pretty damn good evidence of negligence.
2014-01-09 09:50:57 AM
1 votes:
fark this old guy.  Take every dime that he doesn't need for his immediate survival for the rest of his life.  After he's dead, take every dime of his estate and property.  The government will get only a fraction of the cost, but it's better than nothing and certainly better than "stop picking on this irresponsible bastard because he's old".
2014-01-09 09:30:11 AM
1 votes:

hardinparamedic: They don't have thousands of men just setting around somewhere on payroll.


They do--men AND women--but only during the summer months, and they're hired seasonally. These are not full-time jobs with bennies or anything. They're seasonal workers, and after a usually slow start, they're generally working their butts off, since they get sent anywhere in the country where there's fires.

People keep taking these jobs because they're either thrill seekers, or because during a "good" fire season, they can make tons of money (hazard pay, as others pointed out). But if they have few fires, they waste their entire season, which, if you live out west, might be the only time you ever make any money.

Yes, that's why a few seasonal fire-fighters have been known to start forest fires.
2014-01-09 09:11:22 AM
1 votes:
Oh! Well, if the government is paying for all this stuff that makes it totally a-ok to be negligent, right?

Hell, I might go for a drive this weekend and build a bonfire just for kicks, and if it gets out of control, I don't give a fark, I'm just stimulating the economy, right? I'm getting all those firefighters paid when otherwise they'd just be sitting around waiting for an emergency to happen. It's ok, it's already paid for! The magical money fairy will come pull another 6 mill out of her cooch and make it rain.
2014-01-09 09:09:39 AM
1 votes:

doglover: Punitive legal damages should be assessed at a percentage of one's net worth using a scale where 101% equals the death penalty. Sending a poor old man a bill for $6,000,000 for any reason is retarded.


If these were punitive damages, assessed by a court to teach him a lesson,  I would have some sympathy.

Based on the article, they appear to be actual damages. He is being billed for the direct cost of putting out his fire for him, a fire he was not watching and allowed to spiral out of control before seeking help, costs that will otherwise be carried by innocent people who did not negligently burn down a national forest.

All he had to do was use a proper container. Instead, he used a rusty old barrel.

All he had to do was monitor the fire and stomp on whatever fell out. Instead, he went inside and watched football.

All he had to do was heed the longstanding burn ban. Instead, he said "fark it" and did what he felt like doing that day.

This is an "accident" in much the same way drunk driving fatalities are accidents, except he wasn't even drunk, so you can't even really blame impaired judgment.
2014-01-09 08:42:17 AM
1 votes:

dittybopper: I could see charging him if it was intentional. This wasn't intentionally set: He was burning twigs and paper in a barrel, and at some point, the fire spread beyond the barrel.


You have a right to be stupid.  You DO NOT have a right to incur huge costs to society as a result of being stupid.  I don't care if the stupidity is caused by age.  No society can afford that; not even the richest nation in history.  $6 million per idiot is orders of magnitude more than the GDP of the entire world.

dittybopper: This is the kind of behavior on the part of government that would lead someone like him to set fires intentionally, because they no longer have anything left to lose, and fark you, they can cost the government even more money, in firefighting costs and in incarceration costs, and there is no way the government can make that back.


Then we put the asshole in jail to rot, which would be cheaper than $6 million for burning garbage.  It's not like anyone's punishing him for who he is; the guy started a goddamn wildfire FFS.  Again, there just ain't enough resources in the world to forgive & forget people too dumb to avoid causing widespread destruction.  There needs to be some sort of selective pressure and America sets the bar for idiocy about as low as it can possibly go as it is.  An unattended fire endangering an entire town is way on the wrong side of the "too stupid to ignore" line.

I'm guessing the Forest Service is going this route because prosecution is unfeasible.  The alternative is to just let the guy be, in which case he'll probably do it again anyway.
2014-01-09 08:41:00 AM
1 votes:

AgentPothead: Never understood this countries hard on for billing people for what other countries consider government. I guess that's what happens when even your government is privatized and run like a corporation.


Which countries treat fires created by negligence as  "just government"?
2014-01-09 08:30:12 AM
1 votes:

xanadian: So, what would the forest service people and the fire fighters have been doing if the fire hadn't happened? Would they still have their jobs and being paid for it, but just not fighting the wildfire?  I think it's wrong that they're getting MY tax dollars *and* charging some old dude at the same time.  It's like being paid twice for doing one job.



Yeah! It's not like they brought in extra firefighters, extra equipment, paid travel expenses, consumed tons of fuel and chemicals, and lost equipment due to damage.

Oh wait. It's exactly like that.
2014-01-09 08:29:24 AM
1 votes:

dittybopper: What is to stop an old guy like that with nothing more left to lose at that point from intentionally starting multiple fires because fark you for sending a $6 million dollar bill?


I have to come back to this because it's so incredibly dumb.   Maybe we should cut back on stiff penalties for DUI offenders because what if they get pissed off and intentionally drive drunk through school zones?  And why arrest parents responsible for the negligent death of their child?  They might go on a shooting spree in a maternity ward!
2014-01-09 08:27:57 AM
1 votes:
So is <b>dittybopper</b> saying that because he called 911 no harm no foul?   Personal Responsibility be damned!
2014-01-09 08:23:10 AM
1 votes:

dittybopper: If you don't actually intend or expect to collect on the bill, then don't farking send the bill in the first place.

The only intention at that point is to screw the guy who made a mistake. An *OLD* guy. Who might be a little age-related forgetful.

What is to stop an old guy like that with nothing more left to lose at that point from intentionally starting multiple fires because fark you for sending a $6 million dollar bill?


I would imagine there has to be some attempt to settle it.  That's the point.  And if you're a little age-forgetful, then you shouldn't be setting fires.  "Making a mistake" doesn't exonerate you from creating a massive amount of damage and putting thousands of lives at risk.  You don't get to say oopsie promise I won't do that again.

Who gives a f*ck if he gets mad about the bill and starts setting fires?  That's not a normal human response to something like this, and if he's predisposed to do that, well that knocks the legs out from under your poor old forgetful man defense, doesn't it?
 
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