Air Force: N.J. Forest Fire Could Cost $200 Million

September 11, 2007

Air Force officials are reviewing more than $200 million in claims stemming from the forest fire that destroyed 17,000 acres of the Pinelands in May.

The Air Force estimates it has paid approximately $2 million to reimburse residents for property damage and evacuation expenses.

One claim is for more than $197 million. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Melinda Davis-Perittano tells The Press of Atlantic City it will take a few months to investigate its legitimacy.

Officials determined the fire started when a National Guard pilot dropped flares too low, which ignited scrub pines surrounding the Warren Grove Gunnery Range in Little Egg harbor Township.

Flames destroyed four homes in two senior citizen housing developments, and damaged 37 others.

Some 6,000 people were forced to flee their homes.

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