California suing In-N-Out burger chain over 2017 grass fire

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection filed a lawsuit against the popular burger chain In-N-Out on Friday, alleging it was responsible for a 2017 grass fire.

The state is seeking $1.2 million for the Sept. 20, 2017 blaze it says was sparked on property owned by the chain in Arroyo Grande, 175 miles north of Los Angeles, The San Luis Obispo Tribune reported.

The blaze was caused by a tractor mowing grass on the property, which was covered in "dry annual grasses and scattered brush" that "created a receptive bed of flammable vegetation,” Cal Fire said. The suit said the chaff built up in the mower deck was ignited by a hot clutch, blown off and deposited on dry grass.

An In-N-Out burger restaurant in Downey, Calif. Cal Fire is suing the chain over a 2017 grass fire on its property that burned 245 acres. 

An In-N-Out burger restaurant in Downey, Calif. Cal Fire is suing the chain over a 2017 grass fire on its property that burned 245 acres.  (Google Maps)

The fire quickly spread to surrounding vegetation and was aided by winds, according to the suit.

“Wildland fires such as the Huasna Fire ordinarily do not happen unless someone was negligent,” the lawsuit reads.

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The fire burned 245 acres over four days before it was contained. The state is seeking to recover costs associated with extinguishing the fire and investigating it.

Efforts to reach In-N-Out Friday evening were not successful.