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Idaho Firefighting Companies Want Better Protections Against Lawsuits

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho’s private forestry companies want to buttress their protections against federal wildfire lawsuits that they say have been costly for companies elsewhere. Idaho Forest Group lobbyist Jeremy Chou told the House Resources Committee Tuesday his client’s measure restates Idaho’s law putting limits on damages caused by an unintentional wildfire on private land that spreads to public land.

Chou cited a California case in which he says that state’s largest timber company settled with the U.S. Forest Service for what he termed “unreasonable amounts.” Sierra Pacific Industries paid nearly $50 million and donated 22,500 acres to settle a lawsuit over a 2007 wildfire that prosecutors said was caused by unsupervised, bulldozer-riding employees on a red-flag warning day. The settlement is the largest ever received by the United States for wildfire damages.

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