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Ex-Firefighter In California Gets 5 Years For Arson

(AP) - A former firefighter who pleaded guilty to starting an 80-acre wildfire in California has been sentenced to five years in prison.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that 33-year-old Benjamin Cunha pleaded guilty in federal court in October to lighting the 2007 Mine Fire while a volunteer firefighter in Diamond Springs. U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner says Cunha was setting the fires in an attempt to earn overtime pay and impress his peers.

U.S. District Judge John Mendez in Sacramento sentenced Cunha Tuesday. The Placerville resident would have faced a lengthier sentence if he had been convicted for several other fires he admitted to or was suspected of lighting.

Cunha was ordered to pay $246,862 in restitution for lighting the Mine Fire. The U.S. attorney says the arsons caused $7 million in damage.