Illegal Campfire to Blame for Rim Fire in Yosemite


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The U.S. Forest Service has traced back the cause of the Rim Fire, one of the largest fires in the history of California, to an illegal campfire started by a hunter.

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Illegal Campfire to Blame for Rim Fire in Yosemite

  1. 1. Illegal Campfire to Blame for Rim Fire in Yosemite The cause of the Rim Fire in Yosemite National Park, the fourth largest wildfire on record in the state of California and the largest in the Sierra Nevada, has been traced back to the illegal campfire of a hunter in the Stanislaus National Forest, according to an announcement made by the U.S. Forest Service on Thursday, September 5. Due to warm temperatures and dry conditions, the fire spread to what has become the largest fire in Yosemite in the books. The Rim Fire, which started on August 17, is currently 80% contained and should be 100% contained by September 20. It was previously speculated that the fire was started by someone growing marijuana plants in a remote area. This was suggested by Todd McNeal, fire chief at Twain Harte Fire and Rescue, when he commented on it on August 23. It was clear to investigators that lightning had not caused the fire, and it was most likely caused by human error. The hunter who caused it was not required to register his visit at the park. Many hunters visit the park to hunt deer, which they hunt using archery. The U.S. Forest Service determined the cause of the fire after a two-week investigation. The organization has not released any information pertaining to the hunter who illegally started a campfire in a remote forest area west of Yosemite. The area cannot be accessed by trials or public roads.The fire, which started nearby Groveland and Highway 120, eventually burned through 237,341 acres (370 square miles), including 66,155 acres inside of Yosemite. At one point, the fire threatened San Francisco’s water supply as it neared the HetchHetchy Reservoir. More than 5,000 firefighters were called into fight the Rim Fire. Highway 120 is still closed. It is unclear whether or not agencies will attempt to hold the hunter financially responsible for the fire. Authorities have not arrested the hunter. Thus far, it has cost $81 million to fight the fire, which has destroyed 111 structures, 11 homes and caused five injuries. The campfire was illegal during a ban on campfires, smoking and stoves implemented by Susan Skalski, the Supervisor of Stanislaus National Forest. Skalski implemented the ban in “high hazard areas” in June and expanded it into “moderate hazard areas” on August 8. Kyle Graham, law professor at Santa Clara University and former national park ranger, told Mercury News that California may persecute the hunter “to send a message, or to recover some costs, or both” even though most people would never be able to afford the millions of dollars spent fighting the blaze. Deer hunters starting campfires in remote areas near Jawbone Ridgeis dangerous in areas with difficult terrain, in low elevation and in hot weather when vegetation is dry. The area had also been unburned for some time.Violating the ban can result in $5,000 in fines, six months in jail and financial responsibility for the cost of fighting the fire. Action against the hunter and the release of his identity are pending while the U.S. Forest Service continues its investigation. The fire should be completely contained once it burns through remaining land between its southeast side and containment lines built by firefighters.