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Bill granting immunity for Yarnell-like negligence suits passes

PHOENIX -- An Arizona Senate committee has approved a bill that would grant the state immunity from lawsuits similar to those filed after last year's deadly Yarnell Hill Fire.

House Bill 2343 was amended to require the state Land Department facilitate the thinning of forest and take other measures to prevent fires like the one that claimed 19 firefighters last year. But the bill also would remove liability from the state and state employees who fail to take measures to prevent such fires.

The Yarnell Hill Fire destroyed more than 100 homes in the area northwest of Phoenix. In January, the city of Prescott denied more than 100 damage claims seeking $662 million for property owners and relatives of deceased firefighters.

The Senate appropriations committee unanimously approved the bill Tuesday.

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