Rehberg Again Defends Lawsuit Over Billings Fire

By Beacon Staff

BILLINGS – U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg is again defending a lawsuit against the city of Billings over the way firefighters dealt with a 2008 blaze that damaged a subdivision project developed by his company.

The lawmaker, speaking at a state firefighters’ convention in Billings on Tuesday, told the firefighters he trusts them, respects them and would not insult them.

The lawsuit filed July 2 claims firefighters failed to protect the Rehberg Ranch Estates subdivision a year earlier after a wildfire scorched about 1,200 acres. Rehberg says the initial fire was contained to only 10 acres, but city officials decided to pull firefighters off the line, which led to the flare-up a day later. He is seeking money from the city.

Rehberg, who asked to address the convention after Democratic opponent Dennis McDonald of Melville criticized the lawsuit, says the buck stops with the city administrator and the fire chief.

Wearing a Melville Volunteer Fire Department cap, McDonald stood in the back of the room and smiled as Rehberg said the lawsuit had become politicized for McDonald’s gain.