City plans to contest Rehberg lawsuit

The city of Billings expects to contest a lawsuit that alleges that the Billings Fire Department breached a duty to protect the Rehberg Ranch Estates subdivision from a wildfire that scorched nearly 1,200 acres on July 4 in 2008.

"I think that the Fire Department did a good job of defending the property," said Billings City Administrator Tina Volek.

The complaint was filed Friday by the law firm Edwards, Frickle & Culver on behalf of the subdivision, which is run by Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., and his wife, Jan.

The complaint alleges that the Fire Department "carelessly abandoned the scene of a fire that it had not adequately suppressed during hot and windy conditions," threatening homes and causing foreseeable damage to grazing land, fences, water pipes and other property.

The company is seeking money from the city to pay for damages that the wildfire caused to a large section of land slated for commercial and residential development.  Read more