Victims of Hidden Pines Fire file lawsuit against Luecke Farms

The Hidden Pines Fire in Bastrop County damaged or destroyed dozens of properties and some people say Luecke Farms is to blame. That's according to a lawsuit filed Thursday.

Fire investigators said the fire was caused by farming equipment and was accidental. But the 22 families filing the lawsuit said the Luecke Farms was negligent and needs to be held responsible.

Dennis Moninger lost his home in the October fire, “I lost everything, my cars, and my home, there's nothing to retrieve.” He is one of many involved in a lawsuit.  The Texas A&M Forest Service confirmed Luecke Farms is where the Hidden Pines Fire first started in Bastrop County. The fire burned 7-square miles and destroyed 64 homes.     

Robert Kizer is one of the attorney’s representing the group. “As we all know there are many many accidents that are preventable, so I don't think the real question here was this simply an accident. The real question here is was this a preventable accident?”

The fire started when a tractor pulling some sort of cutter, hit a rock, or sparked for an unknown reason and caught dry grass on fire. ‘It's a violation to engage in any conduct where a spark will ignite vegetation causing a wildfire,” Kizer said.

The lawsuit alleges Luecke Farms may have not been taking care of their equipment properly, and they didn’t listen to the warnings of elevated fire weather danger. “The very day before the National Weather Service issued an advisory that there was a high risk of fire in Bastrop County for the coming day of October 13th,” Kizer said.

The lawsuit also said the farm owner was negligent by not taking steps to prevent wildfires. “What was being done in the event that a fire did break out, or what preventative measures did they have to suppress the fire at that point in time,” Kizer added.

Accident or not, those involved said someone needs to be held responsible. Kizer said “Even though it was quote unquote an accident, you still have a civil liability or responsibility for it. Which is fair.” “You accidentally destroyed the lives of several hundred people, that's a little bit different and I think there should be some accountability,” Moninger added.

The group is asking for more than a million dollars in damages, and they do expect that number to go up as they assess all the damage.

The attorneys said they are expecting more residents to join the lawsuit.

FOX 7 did reach out to the family attorney for Luecke Farms, but have not yet heard back.          

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