US: Hunter caused huge wildfire near Yosemite

2013-09-06 08:33
Firefighters hose down a hotspot near a ranger station as they fight the Rim Fire in Yosemite National Park in California. (File, AP)

Firefighters hose down a hotspot near a ranger station as they fight the Rim Fire in Yosemite National Park in California. (File, AP)

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Sacramento - A gigantic wildfire in and around Yosemite National Park was caused by an illegal fire set by a hunter, the US Forest Service said on Thursday.

The agency said there is no indication the hunter was involved with illegal dagga cultivation, which a local fire chief had speculated as the possible cause of the blaze.

No arrests have been made, and the hunter's name was being withheld pending further investigation, according to the Forest Service. The only legal hunting allowed at the time the fire started 17 August was archery for bear and deer.

A Forest Service statement gave no details on how the illegal fire in a remote canyon of the Stanislaus National Forest had escaped the hunter's control.

Because of high fire danger across the region, the Forest Service had banned fires outside of developed camping areas more than a week before the fire started.

The Rim Fire has burned nearly 961km2 - one of the largest wildfires in California history and has cost $81m to fight.

In some cases, people who have started wildfires in California have been sued to pay for the costs and damages.

Forest Service spokesperson Ray Mooney said he was not immediately able to get more information from investigators. The Tuolumne County District Attorney's Office also assisted in the investigation, but declined to comment.

Officials said 111 structures, including 11 homes, have been destroyed. Thousands of fire-fighters were called in to battle the blaze, which at one point threatened more than 4 000 structures.

The blaze is now 80% contained.
Read more on:    environment

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