CRIPPLE CREEK, Colo. (AP) _ A former U.S. Forest Service employee who started Colorado's worst wildfire has been sentenced to 15 years of probation and 1,500 hours of community service.
Terry Barton was resentenced Thursday after her original state sentence of 12 years in prison was overturned by the Colorado Appeals Court, which noted the trial judge had at least "the appearance of prejudice" because smoke from the fire forced him to evacuate one night.
Barton pleaded guilty to both state and federal arson charges and has served nearly six years in a federal prison. She is due to be released in June.
The maximum state sentence Barton could have faced was six years, which under a plea agreement would have been served concurrently with her federal sentence.
She was also ordered to reimburse the federal government $14.6 million.
Barton doesn't have to start the federal payments until her state restitution has been determined. District Attorney John Newsome said prosecutors will seed $30 million in restitution. They have 90 days to file a request.
The 2002 fire scorched 138,000 acres, destroyed 133 houses and forced more than 8,000 people to leave their homes.
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.