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California Suing Sierra Pacific Industries For Fire Negligence

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The state of California is suing to recoup nearly $1 million it says it spent in fighting several Calaveras County fires that started as a result of negligence on the part of Sierra Pacific Industries.

The lawsuit stems from a series of fires known as the Sourgrass Complex that started on Sierra Pacific property in November 2002. Nearly 865 acres were destroyed as a result of seven fires in the area. It took nearly 700 firefighters to suppress the blazes.

The fires started while Sierra Pacific was burning logging debris in various parts of the county. Sierra Pacific did have permits to burn the material, but high winds fanned the fires out of control during a two-day stretch around Thanksgiving that year. Some embers were carried off company property by the winds and ignited nearby lands.

According to the lawsuit filed by the state attorney general´s office, Sierra Pacific were negligent in setting the debris fires and were also were negligent in maintaining control of them, allowing them to move onto public and private property. The suit also claims that the company failed to take appropriate measures to control the burn, thus causing the fires to spread.