Man ordered to pay $6.5 million for Sequoia National Forest fires

Man sentenced for sparking a large fire last year in the Sequoia National Forest

A Perris man was sentenced Tuesday to more than six years in federal prison and ordered to pay about $6.5 million in restitution to the U.S. Forest Service after fires he lighted at a marijuana growing site sparked a 1,600-acre wildfire.

Edgardo Fournier, who also goes by Edgardo Fournier-Nigaglioni, pleaded guilty in April to conspiring to distribute marijuana and setting timber afire July 11 in the Sequoia National Forest. He was sentenced to six years and 10 months in prison.

The Nicolls fire started in the Kiavah Wilderness Area just southeast of Onyx in Kern County and destroyed 1,680 acres of forest, causing more than $6.5 million in damage.

Fournier was watering and tending to 2,090 marijuana plants at a large-scale growing operation in the Smith Canyon area of the Sequoia National Forest, according to court documents.

He admitted to lighting several fires July 11 and 12 in and near the marijuana growing site within the Kiaviah Wilderness Area.

The fires grew out of control and eventually became one massive wildfire.

Although the fire destroyed portions of the forest, it did not damage the marijuana site. But authorities said the marijuana operation caused significant damage to the forest and its natural resources.

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