The Air Force is reimbursing the town of Barnegat, N.J., for the cost of fighting a forest fire sparked by an Air National Guard F-16 on May 15, 2007, reports the Associated Press. The municipality bore the brunt of combating blazes ignited by a flare countermeasure ejected over the nearby Warren Grove Gunnery Range and initially sued for $100,000 in damages, according to AP’s Aug. 21 report (via the Sacramento Bee). The municipality will receive $83,464 in compensation for firefighting costs associated with containing the Pinelands forest fire that consumed roughly 17,000 acres of land. Barnegat filed its claim separately from the other municipalities to which the Air Force has dispensed a combined total of more than $300,000, according to the press report. Shortly after the blaze, the Air Force began settling claims with local residents, several of whom lost their homes to the inferno. Warren Grove Range was closed for almost a year and a half after the fire, reopening in September 2008.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.