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Rib Lake logging firm billed for causing massive wildfire

In this photo taken May 14, 2013 from Connors Meadow Road, The Germann Road Fire crowns through young red pine in Douglas County. (courtesy of the Wisconsin DNR).
In this photo taken May 14, 2013 from Connors Meadow Road, The Germann Road Fire crowns through young red pine in Douglas County. (courtesy of the Wisconsin DNR).

DOUGLAS COUNTY, WI (WTAQ) - A logging company that started Wisconsin's largest forest fire in 33 years has been ordered to pay the costs of fighting the blaze. 

The DNR said Monday it would bill Ray Duerr Logging of Rib Lake about $630,000. 

The fire began May 14th in Douglas County in far northwest Wisconsin. It burned 7,400 acres, destroyed 17 homes, and caused dozens of people to evacuate before the blaze got under control the next day. 

Authorities found that a logging crew started the fire with sparks from a cutting machine. Later, investigators discovered that the machine had a fire suppression system with a hose -- and the crew tried using the system but it didn't work. 

The DNR said the pressure was set too low, and the agency ruled that Duerr Logging had not properly tested or maintained the system. At that point, DNR officials said they considered citations against the logging firm for withholding the information about the suppression system, thus obstructing the probe. 

But the agency said the case was not strong enough to take to prosecutors. Still, the DNR concluded that the firm was negligent in not maintaining the equipment. The company has not commented.

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