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Bear Fire Verdict Handed Down

Redding, CA — A man who started a major northern California wildfire by mowing his lawn during a drought has been sentenced to four years in state prison.

The fire destroyed 80 homes, 30 buildings and scorched nearly 11,000 acres.

William Rupp of Jones Valley sparked the multi-million dollar Bear Fire in August, 2004 when he mowed his lawn despite repeated warnings of possible danger.

A Shasta County jury convicted him in February of arson and unlawfully causing the fire when the mower blade struck a rock and ignited the dry grass.

Damage was estimated at $14 million while firefighters spent nearly $10 million extinguishing the fire.