Gov. Steve Sisolak, Attorney General Aaron Ford and Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske on Thursday approved a $25 million settlement agreement for the victims of the Little Valley Fire. 

$18 million will go to the residents - the other $7 million will reimburse insurance companies. 

Governor Sisolak says this was a good outcome for the state, especially since the residents and insurance companies were seeking more than $300 million.

"There's a liability issue and it would have been the subject to the tort caps and it could have been an enormous liability which could have put the state in a very difficult position."

The fire destroyed 24 homes south of Reno when strong winds reignited a smoldering prescribed burn that escaped in 2016.

Governor Sisolak hopes the decision closes the book on this case. 

"You've got things that you can't replace at any price but you can give them some compensation, help rebuild some of the structures that were destroyed and be able to move forward and get on with their lives."

Lawyers for 105 plaintiffs who sued the Nevada Division of Forestry told a judge last month they had reached a tentative settlement that would require approval by the three-member state Board of Examiners.

A trial to determine the amount of damages had been scheduled for December after a jury found the state guilty of gross negligence and liable for losses last year. 

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UPDATE, June 10, 2019:

The Board of Examiners (BOE) is expected to review the settlement for victims of the Little Valley Fire.

The document states that the total amount is $25 million, but includes two separate agreements: one, with subrogated insurers receiving $7 million, two, with 105 plaintiffs for $18 million with the excess insurer for the State paying $15 million and the State paying $10 million.

The document says the State's portion of the settlement will be funded $7 million from the Statutory Contingency Account and $3 million will be paid from the Tort Fund.

The document goes on to state the Attorney General's Office believes the settlement is in the best interest of the state and recommends moving forward with the state's portion of the settlement payment, in the amount of $10 million.

The document requests for the approval to be added to the BOE's agenda for June 11.

You can read the agenda below:


UPDATE, May 2019:

The state of Nevada has reached a tentative settlement with dozens of homeowners and insurance companies that filed an $80 million negligence suit after 23 homes were destroyed when strong winds reignited a prescribed burn south of Reno in 2016.
  
Lawyers for Nevada and more than 60 plaintiffs told a judge in Reno Thursday the state Board of Examiners plans to vote on the settlement agreement June 11.

On June 27, a status hearing will be held before a judge with the settlement, if it's approved by the Board of Examiners.

William Jeanney, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said he can't discuss details. But he told reporters after a brief court appearance it's a "good deal" for everyone involved given the circumstances.
  
He credited Gov. Steve Sisolak and Attorney General Aaron Ford for helping reach the agreement.
  
A trial to determine the amount of damages had been scheduled for December after a jury found the state liable for losses last year.

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UPDATE, August 2018:

The jury in the Little Valley Fire Trial found the Nevada Division of Forestry (NDF) liable for homes lost in 2016, but not the University of Nevada, Reno.

The last witness took the stand on Friday. 

A meteorologist testified that the high wind gusts on that day couldn't have been predicted by looking at the radar. The defense argued that firefighters did everything right during the prescribed fire.

With sustained winds of 60 miles per hour, an 87 mile per hour gust was to blame. The fire re-ignited, destroying 23 homes and 17 other building along Franktown road in Washoe Valley. 

The plaintiffs say that would not have happened if the NDF was more careful.

Homeowners on hand were happy with the verdict.

"I went through it. And it's fine halfway, but I feel much better now that somebody's been responsible for what happened." Ed Scott said.

"We've been trying to put our lives back together and none of us have really been able to put our lives back together and maybe we can go forward from this point," Debbie Sheltra said. "Gross negligence in pretty damn serious."

The homeowners are asking for the full value of their homes lost. It could take several months to figure that out and it may cost the state more than $100 million dollars.


Original Story: Jury deliberations are now underway in the Little Valley fire civil trial. Jurors will determine if the October 2016 prescribed burn was an unfortunate accident, or the result of negligence.

The last witness took the stand on Friday.

A meteorologist testified that the high wind gusts that happened that day couldn't have been predicted by looking at the radar.

The defense argues that firefighters did everything right during the prescribed fire.

And with sustained winds of 60 miles per hour -- an 87-mile per hour gust was to blame.

In October of 2016, the Nevada Division of Forestry conducted the controlled burn on land owned by the University of Nevada. The fire was intended to clear out overgrown vegetation to prevent future wildland fires, while giving the university a chance to study fire's impact on the ecosystem. 53 plaintiffs are suing NDF and UNR, hoping to recover the value of their lost property. 23 homes and 19 other buildings were destroyed when high winds re-ignited the fire, which spread into Washoe Valley.

The plaintiffs say that would not have happened if NDF and UNR were more careful.

"For two years, these people have lived without their homes, without their belongings, some of them lost 50-60 years of memories and the only thing they've ever asked for for two years is that you accept responsibility for what you did,” says attorney William Jeanney.

Unlike a criminal trial, which requires 12 jurors to agree, unanimously for a conviction, a civil trial only requires six of the eight jurors to agree in order for the plaintiffs to win.

Houston says the state has a immunity clause, which caps the amount of money owed to the homeowners, and that is not enough to make up for the damage.

Houston would not disclose how much money the homeowners are seeking.