Sitting on the edge of a small Cle Elum lake, the home of Gary and Patsy Hoover was the heart of their family, a place where generations gathered, a safe haven. Their family’s memories were captured there in carefully chronicled photo albums, baby photos, home movies, paintings created by her mother and furniture hand-made by her brother. These personal treasures represented the Hoovers’ 50-year legacy, and many of these items were to be passed down to their children. “A home is what gives you comfort, even in hard times,” said Patsy Hoover. Now, after a solid year of debris removal and cleanup of their property, all that remains is a trailer where their idyllic homestead once stood.
The Hoovers were aware of the Taylor Bridge fire after they left town to visit an elderly relative in August 2012. The weather had been typically hot and dry in Central Washington during that time, and they had heard from friends that the fire was intense, but not a threat to their home. “We knew the fire hadn’t jumped the river, so we felt safe. Even later, when we found out the fire had jumped the river, we still felt safe,” said Patsy. Then, as a result of shifting winds and an ember landing on their deck, the Hoovers learned the terrible news that their home was engulfed in flames.
Neither Patsy nor Gary had ever sought the help of an attorney, nor had it occurred to either of them to contact a law firm after their tragedy. But word soon got out that the fire that had claimed their home was not a natural disaster: it was man-made, caused by a careless welder at a nearby construction site. “When I heard it was someone’s fault – well that just made me mad,” said Patsy. She and Gary attended a meeting held by Abeyta Nelson Injury Law, and soon learned that other local families had also suffered losses to their property and dwellings.
Abeyta Nelson currently represents 73 clients, including the Hoovers, whose property or belongings were damaged in the Taylor Bridge Fire, which burned 22,000 acres near Cle Elum, WA in August 2012. The firm is also pursuing claims for 7 ranchers in the Goldendale area for damages from the Wishram Fire which occurred in August 2011 and claims for 2 homeowners in the Omak, WA area for damages resulting from the St. Mary’s Mission fire which occurred in October 2012.