The U.S. attorney sued the California Department of Transportation on March 18 over allegations state employees ignited a fire in 2013 while clearing out brush without the proper fire suppression equipment.

The lawsuit was filed against both the transportation department and the state of California alleging the employees ignited the Gabriel Fire on July 30, 2013 on land owned by the U.S. government.

The lawsuit alleged the fire was started while state employees were clearing brush adjacent to Highway 39 near Azusa, California. The fire destroyed approximately 4.7 acres of land in the Angeles National Forest. The suit alleged the transportation department failed to take the proper precautions in order to prevent the spread of a fire. The fire allegedly started from a mowing tractor and other equipment.

The lawsuit said the U.S. Forest Service spent about $60,000 to put out the fire. The federal government seeks restitution for those costs in addition to other unspecified damage amounts plus court costs.

The lawsuit was filed by Stephanie Yonekura, acting U.S. attorney; and Leon W. Weidman and Kevin Finn, assistant U.S. attorneys.

U.S. District Court for the Central District of California Western Division case number 2:15-cv-02021.

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