The Moonlight Fire started on Labor Day, September 3, 2007, near Westwood in Lassen County, California, United States. It was a human-caused wildfire started on private land southeast of Mountain Meadows Reservoir and is still under court review . Approximately 2,300 firefighters were involved in fighting the fire . Strong winds pushed smoke to the Sacramento Valley, Bay Area, Nevada and Idaho. In Plumas County, 500 homes were threatened by the Moonlight Fire; 100 residences were evacuated near Greenville in the North Arm area of Indian Valley, as the wild fire was still raging in the Plumas National Forest . The fire was fully contained on September 19, 2007, having burned a total of 65,000 acres (260 km2) .
The cause of the fire was never clearly established . Federal and state officials accused Sierra Pacific Industries of negligence in the hiring and supervision of a logging contractor. State Court Judge Leslie C. Nichols concluded that the state could not prove its case and engaged in unethical conduct in its investigation and subsequent legal action . The Court ordered the State of California to pay some $32 million to the defendants to reimburse them for the money spent fighting the case. The state has appealed the ruling.
After a Federal judge ruled that Sierra Pacific could be found liable for the fire even if its contractor did not start it, Sierra Pacific settled the federal case for $55 million and 22,500 acres of land. On October 9, 2014 Sierra Pacific and other defendants filed a motion in Federal Court to terminate the settlement on the grounds that the investigation and prosecution were flawed and corrupt. As a result, on October 14, 2014 Chief Judge of the Eastern District of California Morrison C. England issued an order which referred the case to Alex Kozinski, then-Chief Judge of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals for the assignment of a judge outside of the Eastern District of California to assure impartiality. Judge Kozinski declined to appoint a judge outside of the Eastern District to hear the case, which was then reassigned to Senior District Judge William B. Shubb.
1.↑ 1.0 1.1 TheUnion.com, Plumas fire at 28,460 acres (115 km2); 500 homes threatened 2.↑ Metcalf, Victoria (2007-09-19). "Moonlight Fire 100 percent contained; costs top $28.5 million". Plumas County News. 3.↑ "Moonlight Fire lawsuit against Sierra Pacific Industries, others dismissed". Lassen County Times. 2013-08-02. 4. Sacramento Bee (10/9/2014), "Sierra Pacific Levels Corruption Charges in Renewed Legal Fight over Moonlight Fire." 5. Sacramento Bee (2/25/2014, "Judge Orders Cal Fire to Pay $30 Million for 'Reprehensible Conduct' in Moonlight Fire Case."
6. Law360 (2/6/2014), "Judge Sanctions Cal Fire $32 Million for Conduct in Wildfire Suit."