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Pay $6.3 million for wildfire, Forest Service tells 77-year-old Wyoming man

The U.S. Forest Service wants a 77-year-old Wyoming man to pay $6.3 million for allegedly sparking a 2012 forest fire that threatened the upscale Western town of Jackson.

The Forest Service sent James G. Anderson Jr. a bill for firefighting costs incurred from several agencies in November, The Associated Press reported. It was due on Dec. 13, according to copy of the letter the wire service obtained through Freedom of Information Act.

Anderson is accused letting a fire of twigs and paper in a rusted-out old barrel he lit at 6 a.m. Sept. 8, 2012, on his son’s property get out of control. According to the Forest Service report, Anderson watched football and had a sandwich before noticing smoke out of a garage window. He called 911.


When firefighters arrived about 2:45 p.m. flames had spread to the national forest beyond the home,  according to the report.

The Horsethief Canyon Fire burned 5 square miles of Wyoming forestland. Jackson residents were warned to prepare for a possible evacuation, but fire crews managed to halt the blaze a couple miles from town.

According to the Forest Service’s letter demanding payment, firefighting costs were about $9 million. Those included $3.8 incurred by the Forest Service; $2 million by the Bureau of Land Management as well as $64,000 to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, $154,000 to the National Park Service and $252,000 to the state of Wyoming and Teton County.

Anderson could not be reached for comment and the Forest Service did not immediately respond to inquiries from NBC News about the case.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.