Judge Says S.P.I. Should Pay For Moonlight Fire

Sierra Pacific Industries is on the hook for the largest federal fire settlement in history after a judge issued a lengthy order Friday. The Anderson-based company agreed to pay the huge settlement over a wildfire that destroyed more than 100 square miles of forest. The 2007 Moonlight Fire burned 65-Thousand acres in Plumas and Lassen Counties. The state determined that it was sparked by two bulldozer operators working on a Sierra Pacific logging operation. In July of 2012, on the eve of trial, Sierra Pacific agreed to pay 55-Million Dollars cash and to transfer ownership of 22-Thousand-500 acres of land to the forest service. The settlement is valued at more than 122-Million Dollars, even though they've claimed all along that they didn't even start the blaze. A judge ruled in February of last year that Cal-Fire's efforts to pin the blame for the fire on Sierra Pacific were corrupt and tainted. She said Cal-Fire withheld documents for months, destroyed evidence and engaged in a campaign of misdirection. She ordered the agency to pay more than 30 Million Dollars in penalties and legal fees. In October, Sierra Pacific filed court papers accusing prosecutors of misconduct and unethical behavior in prosecuting the civil suit and said the entire federal settlement should be overturned. On Friday, a different judge issued a blistering refusal of Sierra Pacific's motion, saying -quote-"Stripped of its bluster, defendants motion is wholly devoid of any substance."