updated 12/17/2008 9:08:34 PM ET 2008-12-18T02:08:34

The attorney for a man accused of starting the most destructive wildfire in recent Minnesota history says his client has killed himself.

Attorney Mark Larsen says Stephen Posniak, 64, died Tuesday from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in his Washington, D.C., home.

Posniak had pleaded not guilty to charges that he allowed his campfire to burn out of control in May 2007 — sparking a fire that burned 118 square miles in Minnesota and Canada.

Posniak camped on Ham Lake and started a trash fire on the morning of May 5, 2007, then left the fire unattended, the indictment says.

The fire burned for more than a week and destroyed nearly 150 buildings worth more than $10 million.

Authorities say $11 million was spent to put out the blaze, which was rated the most destructive in Minnesota since 1918. Nobody was killed or seriously injured.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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