Marines Get Nevada Firefighting Bill

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) -- The Marine Corps has been asked to pay $10 million to cover the costs of putting out a 22,750-acre Sierra Nevada wildfire last summer_ an effort that took the lives of three fire crew members.

The blaze broke out in an area where Marine mountain warfare trainees had set dozens of practice campfires, but the Forest Service's report on its cause hasn't been released.

The Marines also haven't released details of their report on the blaze, and the U.S. Department of Justice is reviewing the Forest Service's report.

The Forest Service confirmed Wednesday that the cost estimate of the fire, which burned along the California-Nevada state line, went to the Marines, who run a mountain warfare training base in the area.

Forest Service spokeswoman Erin O'Connor, based in Ogden, Utah, said negotiations with the Marines are under way.

``The Forest Service has initiated a conversation regarding the allocation of costs for the fire suppression activities and for the rehabilitation of the land and restoration costs,'' O'Connor said. ``It's a discussion, so where we end up when the conversation is over remains to be seen.'' First Lt. Daniel G. Rawson said in an e-mail from Camp Pendleton, Calif., the Marine base that oversees the mountain training facility, that the Marine Corps was working ``to resolve this issue in a timely and equitable manner.'' Negotiators are focused on interagency agreements between the Marines and the Forest Service, which were drawn up because the Marines' Pickel Meadows base is in the Toiyabe National Forest. The Forest Service says the agreements require the Department of Defense to pay it for any costs directly attributable to military training in the area _ subject to available funds. Four days after the fire began, a C-130A tanker plane battling the blaze crashed near Walker, Calif., killing the three crew members on board.

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