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Feds seek $6.3 million from man who caused big wildfire

Jan 8, 2014 - The Associated Press

CHEYENNE -- The U.S. Forest Service wants to collect $6.3 million from a 77-year-old man the agency blames for causing a 2012 forest fire that threatened to burn into the town of Jackson.

The Forest Service alleges James G. Anderson Jr. sparked the wildfire on Sept. 8, 2012, by burning twigs and paper in a rusted-out barrel at his son's home and allowing the flames to get out of control.

The Forest Service sent Anderson a bill in November for the firefighting costs. The amount was due to the agency's Albuquerque, N.M., service center on Dec. 13, according to a copy of the bill obtained by The Associated Press through the Freedom of Information Act.

No criminal charges have been filed while the civil matter remains unresolved, said John Powell, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Wyoming.

The Horsethief Canyon Fire burned 5 square miles of Bridger-Teton National Forest. At the height of the fire, officials urged some residents of nearby Jackson to be prepared to evacuate at a moment's notice.

Firefighting costs for several agencies totaled about $9 million. Anderson's share, according to a Nov. 13 certified letter the Forest Service sent him, includes about $3.8 million incurred by the Forest Service and some $2 million by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

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