published Wednesday, September 4th, 2013

Cause of Rim Fire could take months to determine

(Photo provided by the U.S. Forest Service)

Fire crew members stand watch near a burn area as they fight the Rim Fire near Yosemite National Park in California in this Sept. 1, 2013, file photo.
(Photo provided by the U.S. Forest Service) Fire crew members stand watch near a burn area as they fight the Rim Fire near Yosemite National Park in California in this Sept. 1, 2013, file photo.
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, Calif. — There was no evidence of an illegal marijuana grow near the spot where a raging wildfire started near Yosemite National Park, a federal forestry official said Wednesday.

Investigators have ruled out the illicit activity as a potential cause, ending speculation by a local fire chief that the gardens that plague federal land could be to blame.

Jerry Snyder of the U.S. Forest Service said that the steep and inaccessible canyon where the Rim Fire started Aug. 17 in the Stanislaus National Forest doesn't have a water source that growers look for when they set up remote gardens.

"The lead investigator says there's no evidence of any type of grow in the area where the fire started," Snyder said.

Snyder also said lightning isn't to blame. It could take months for investigators to determine what ignited the blaze that has consumed more than 370 square miles of Sierra Nevada forests.

"They'll be able to tell whether there was an illegal campfire in there," he said. "Another thing to consider is that this area is very steep, and if there was a rockslide two rocks hitting together could make a spark to ignite dry brush."

The fire is 80 percent contained, and crews don't expect full containment before Sept. 20. The far-off date is because the portion of the fire burning in Yosemite National Park is headed toward granite outcroppings that will act as a natural firebreak but won't be classified as technical containment.

Letting geological formations help will allow firefighters to focus some efforts inside the fire's footprint. Snyder said they have begun to cut breaks and start backfires in an effort to save grazing land, wildlife habitat and historic buildings left over from early timber camps.

"We don't want the entire interior to be burned too," he said.

Officials said 111 structures, including 11 homes, have been destroyed. More than 4,300 firefighters are still battling the blaze.

Although no cause has been announced, one local fire chief speculated the fire might have ignited in an illegal marijuana grow. His remarks posted on YouTube prompted Snyder to shoot down the rumor.

about Associated Press...

The Associated Press

Other National Articles

videos »         

photos »         

e-edition »

advertisement
advertisement

Find a Business

400 East 11th St., Chattanooga, TN 37403
General Information (423) 756-6900
Copyright, Permissions, Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy, Ethics policy - Copyright ©2014, Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc. All rights reserved.
This document may not be reprinted without the express written permission of Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc.