Wisconsin Central, Canadian National Railway pay $1.25M settlement over Skibo fire

Wisconsin Central LTD and Canadian National Railway Company have agreed to settle a lawsuit over damages from a 2016 wildfire in northeastern Minnesota.

The U.S. Attorney's Office said Tuesday that the companies agreed to pay $1.25 million for failure to maintain the equipment that started the Skibo fire.

According to the attorney's office, on May 6, 2016, the fire started in St. Louis County, east of Hoyt Lakes. The U.S. government alleged that the fire was ignited by a railroad locomotive that experienced mechanical failure.

By the time the fire was finally put out, 387 acres had burned within Superior National Forest, and another 585 acres belonging to St. Louis County and private landowners. The government said it cost more than $1.5 million to suppress the fire, which threatened the city of Hoyt Lakes and forced many to evacute in Skibo.

“This settlement goes a long way toward compensating the public for the expense of fighting the fire and the damage to public lands,” said U.S. Attorney Erica MacDonald. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office will continue to aggressively pursue recovery against those whose carelessness damages our precious national resources.”

Past coverage:

Families to return Thursday as northern Minn. wildfire containment grows

Largest wildfire near Hoyt Lakes continues to burn