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Valley Fire Cause: Homeowner Where Fire Started Suing Cal Fire Over Evidence

KCBS_740COBB (KCBS) -- The owners of a home where investigators say last year's devastating Valley Fire started are suing Cal Fire.

The suit is meant to force the agency to turn over all evidence it used to determine the cause of the fire.

The Valley Fire burned 76,000 acres and destroyed more than 1,000 homes. Cal Fire blames a faulty wiring between a hot tub and a home.

"Our investigators worked very hard over the last 11 months, ruling out many other possibilities. In fact, we received hundreds and hundreds of leads that we've been following up on over the last nearly a year. And, that's how we determined this was the area where the fire started, and this was what caused the fire," Cal Fire Public Information Officer Daniel Berlant told KCBS.

The house is owned by John and Cindy Pinch, and Berlant says they could be liable for the firefighting efforts, which cost $57 million.

"The appellants in this case will have their opportunity if the district attorney's office does choose to file charges, they will obviously, in the judicial process have their side be heard. But, after our investigation, this is what we determined sparked the fire," Berlant said.

The Pinch's attorney, Ken Anderson, says they weren't even home at the time of the fire, but a strange car was seen on their property. He wants Cal Fire to turn over all of its evidence so they can do their own investigation.


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