It’s safe to say that Margaret Pavese had no idea she would start a wildfire nearly twice the size of San Francisco when she left a trash fire burning in a metal barrel in 2007—a California wildfire that also burned rare papers written by Albert Einstein, the San Jose Mercury News reports. A jury found Pavese, her husband, and father-in-law guilty of negligence last week and ordered them to pay Dan Straus $750,000 for the loss of his documents. The papers were given to Straus' father, a mathematician who worked with Einstein, and included hand-written calculations on onionskin and an envelope.
"I’d much rather have those papers," Straus said. "But there has been justice." Straus has a single Einstein document left, which he had kept separate from the others: a handwritten poem Einstein penned to congratulate his parents on his 1954 birth. "This is what I wish: Let Daniel be like his father, thoroughly intelligent and not less joyous. Yours, A. Einstein." It's now kept in a bank vault. Pavese's father-in-law's attorney plans to seek a new trial, calling the award excessive. Pavese, a former school teacher, has already paid $200,000 to victims whose homes were damaged.