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Marines Get Firefighting Bill

The Marine Corps has received a $10 million-bill for costs of putting out a nearly 23,000-acre Sierra Nevada wildfire – a firefighting effort that took the lives of three airtanker crew members.

The U.S. Forest Service has confirmed that the cost estimate of the June 2002 fire near Walker went to the Marines, who run a mountain warfare training base in the fire area.

The Marines balked at paying the money, and that has resulted in negotiations to determine how much they´ll pay. The fire broke out in an area where dozens of practice campfires had been set by Marine mountain warfare trainees. Besides the dispute over costs, the Department of Justice is reviewing the Forest Service´s report on the cause of the fire. That review is being handled by attorneys in the agency´s Sacramento office.