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Judge rules CalFire owes $30M in 2007 fire suit

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- A Northern California judge has found the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection guilty of `egregious and reprehensible' conduct in its response to the 2007 Moonlight Fire and ordered the agency to pay more than $30 million in penalties and legal fees.

Retired Superior Court Judge Leslie C. Nichols said Tuesday that CalFire's efforts to pin the blame for the fire on the company Sierra Pacific were corrupt and tainted.

Nichols said CalFire withheld documents for months, destroyed evidence and engaged in a campaign of misdirection with the purpose of recovering money from Sierra Pacific.

The Sacramento Bee reports (http://bit.ly/1nc22Wv ) that the ruling is the latest twist in a legal battle that began soon after the fire erupted on Labor Day 2007, scorching more than 65,000 acres in Plumas and Lassen counties.

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Information from: The Sacramento Bee, http://www.sacbee.com

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