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Calif. Woman Sentenced in Sequoia Blaze

August 4, 2003

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) _ A woman who admitted she started the worst fire on record in the Sequoia National Forest when she lit a camp fire was sentenced Monday to 18 months in prison.

Peri Dare Van Brunt wept as U.S. District Judge Robert Coyle confirmed the sentence she had agreed to in a deal with prosecutors.

The guilty plea to three misdemeanor charges included restitution, which Coyle said he would deal with later.

The U.S. Forest Service saying fighting the 150,000-acre fire cost $148 million. The six-week blaze also destroyed three homes, a lodge and four commercial buildings, and endangered groves of sequoias, some of the world’s largest trees.

Van Brunt, of Bakersfield, admitted lighting a camp fire without a permit on July 21, 2002, so she could cook hot dogs.

Van Brunt, who has a record of drug convictions, was jailed in April after violating terms of her release on bail by testing positive for drugs.

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