$18 Million Restitution Ordered For Sparking 2003 California Fire

REDDING, Calif. (AP) -- A lost hunter who sparked a forest fire while trying to keep warm was ordered Wednesday to pay $18.2 million in restitution.

The fire in the Mendocino National Forest burned 6,058 acres and cost $33 million to suppress, authorities said. The restitution covers the U.S. Forest Service's cost of fighting the fire and restoring the burned area, prosecutors said.

Jason Hoskey, 26, of Willows lit a campfire when he got lost hunting on Sept. 27, 2003, in the Spanish Creek area of Glenn County. The fire spread after he fell asleep.

Flames had been banned in the area because of extreme fire danger. Prosecutors said Hoskey also violated the ban by smoking several cigarettes.

Hoskey pleaded no contest in September to a federal misdemeanor of leaving a fire burning or unattended.

In addition to the restitution ordered at his sentencing Wednesday, Hoskey was banned from the Mendocino National Forest for five years.

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