- Associated Press - Friday, July 29, 2016

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Federal prosecutors say two companies have paid nearly $1.4 million to settle claims over a 2011 fire at the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge in southwestern Oklahoma.

Acting U.S. Attorney Mark Yancey announced Friday that Bell Contracting Inc. and Redlands Contracting LLC settled claims over allegations that the companies negligently caused the fire that burned more than 40 square miles on the refuge.

In reaching the settlement, Bell and Redlands did not admit liability.

Yancey says Bell had a contract with the Department of Transportation for a road improvement project, and Bell subcontracted with Redlands for the work. Prosecutors say Redlands employees were working on the project on Sept. 1, 2011, when a burn ban was in effect. Sparks from a chop saw ignited a fire, which quickly spread.

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