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LDS church sues landscaping company over fire that leveled ranch

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, also known as the Mormon Church, is suing a Las Vegas company and accusing it of causing a fire that destroyed more than 15 buildings at a Nevada ranch owned by the church. The defendant business, Soil-Tech Inc., stood by its safety record, but stopped short of denying the church's claims.

The fire began on July 1, 2010. Soil-Tech workers were at the ranch, which is located about 50 miles northeast of Las Vegas, to clear brush and trim palm trees on the property. As part of their work, the crew used a wood chipper attached to a truck. According to the lawsuit recently filed in Clark County District Court, the truck became stuck in a "dry and hazardous wooded area."

The Soil-Tech employees rocked the truck back and forth while revving the motor. While they tried to release the truck, its heated undercarriage brushed against dry foliage and other debris, igniting the material.

The fire quickly spread throughout the ranch, which was used as a recreation site for church members and other guests. In all, over a dozen buildings, including a mansion, manufactured homes and a shed, were consumed by the flames, as were hundreds of trees, the lawsuit claims. News reports do not mention any injuries to employees or visitors.

In a statement, Soil-Tech said that the suit represented the first time a client had questioned its employees' safety in more than 20 years of operation. The company said it was investigating the claims included in the suit.

Source: VEGAS INC, "Wildfire from 2010 spawns lawsuit from Mormon Church," Steve Green, March 5, 2012

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