76.04.750  <<  76.04.760 >>   76.04.770

Civil actionsForested landsFire damage.

(1) The owner of public or private forested lands may bring a civil action in superior court for property damage to public or private forested lands, including real and personal property on those lands, when the damage results from a fire that started on or spread from public or private forested lands.
(2) Liability under this section attaches to the extent that evidence demonstrates that:
(a) An action or inaction by a person relating to the start or spread of the fire from public or private forested lands constituted negligence or a higher degree of fault; and
(b) The action or inaction under (a) of this subsection was a proximate cause of the property damage.
(3) Recoverable damages under this section are limited to:
(a) Either: (i) The difference in the fair market value of the damaged property immediately before and after the fire. For real property, the state-certified general real estate appraiser must identify and analyze all relevant characteristics and uses of the property including cultural, recreational, and environmental characteristics and uses, to the extent such characteristics or uses contribute to the fair market value of the property based on the highest and best use of the property. The state-certified general real estate appraiser shall expressly address the assumptions and conditions used to evaluate such characteristics and uses, consistent with standards of professional appraisal practice adopted under chapter 18.140 RCW; or (ii) the reasonable cost of restoring the damaged property to the general condition it was in immediately before the fire, to the extent permitted by Washington law;
(b) The reasonable expenses incurred to suppress or extinguish the fire unless otherwise provided for in this chapter;
(c) Any other objectively verifiable monetary loss, that is not duplicative of the recovery specified under (a) or (b) of this subsection including, but not limited to: Out-of-pocket expenses; loss of earnings; loss of use of property; or loss of business or employment opportunities; and
(d) In actions brought by an Indian tribe for recovery of damages from injury to archaeological objects, archaeological sites, or historic archaeological resources, damages as measured in accordance with WAC 25-48-043 as it existed on June 12, 2014.
(4) This section provides the exclusive cause of action for property damage to public or private forested lands, including real and personal property on those lands, resulting from a fire that started on or spread from public or private forested lands.
(5) The definitions in this subsection only apply throughout this section relating to the specification of damages for fire damage to public and private forested lands, unless the context clearly requires otherwise, and do not apply to and are not intended as a source for interpretation of other sections of this chapter.
(a) "Fair market value" means the amount that a willing buyer would pay to a willing seller for property in an arms-length transaction if both parties were fully informed about all advantages and disadvantages of the property and neither party is acting under a compulsion to sell, as determined by: (i) For real property, a state-certified general real estate appraiser as defined under RCW 18.140.010; and (ii) for personal property, an appraiser qualified to appraise the property based on training and experience. For real property, the state-certified general real estate appraiser must identify and analyze all relevant characteristics and uses of the property including cultural, recreational, and environmental characteristics and uses, to the extent such characteristics or uses contribute to the fair market value of the property based on the highest and best use of the property. The state-certified general real estate appraiser shall expressly address the assumptions and conditions used to evaluate such characteristics and uses, consistent with standards of professional appraisal practice adopted under chapter 18.140 RCW.
(b) "Forest tree species" means a tree species that is capable of producing logs, fiber, or other wood materials that are suitable for the production of lumber, sheeting, pulp, firewood, or other forest products.
(c) "Owner of public or private forested lands" means any person in actual control of public or private forested lands, whether the control is based either on legal or equitable title, or on any other interest entitling the holder to sell or otherwise dispose of any or all of the timber on the land in any manner.
(d) "Person" includes: An individual; a corporation; a public or private entity or organization; a local, state, or federal government or governmental entity; any business organization, including corporations and partnerships; or a group of two or more individuals acting with a common purpose.
(e) "Public or private forested lands" means any lands used or biologically capable of being used for growing forest tree species regardless of the existing use of the land except when the predominant physical use of the land at the time of the fire is not consistent with the growing, conservation, or preservation of forest tree species. Examples of inconsistent uses include, but are not limited to, buildings, airports, parking lots, mining, solid waste disposal, cropfields, orchards, vineyards, pastures, feedlots, communication sites, and home sites that may include up to ten acres. Public or private forested lands do not include state highways, county roads, railroad rights-of-way, and utility rights-of-way that cross over, under, or through such lands.

NOTES:

Authority of chapter2014 c 81: "This act does not: Affect or preclude any action relating to the imposition of criminal or civil penalties as authorized by law; affect or preclude the recovery of fire suppression costs as authorized under chapter 76.04 RCW; affect or preclude an action under RCW 4.24.630 against a person who goes onto the land of another without authorization and wrongfully, intentionally, and unreasonably causes a fire resulting in property damage; affect or preclude an action under chapter 27.44 or 27.53 RCW; or affect the provisions of RCW 76.04.016." [ 2014 c 81 § 4.]
Application2014 c 81: "This act applies prospectively only and not retroactively. It applies only to causes of action that arise on or after June 12, 2014." [ 2014 c 81 § 5.]
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