Hunter's "Illegal" Fire to Blame for Rim Fire

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Sept. 5 2013 3:14 PM

Pot Growers Aren't to Blame For California's Massive Rim Fire After All

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Flames from the Rim Fire consume trees on August 25, 2013 near Groveland, California

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

So much for the speculation that California's massive wildfire was caused by some type of illegal pot-growing operation, via the Los Angeles Times:

The Rim fire, which has burned into Yosemite National Park and threatened a vital water supply to San Francisco, was started by a hunter who let an illegal fire “escape,” the U.S. Forest Service said Thursday.
The fire was not started by a marijuana growing operation, despite rumors to the contrary, the U.S. Forest Service’s investigation unit and the Tuolumne County district attorney’s office concluded. The hunter has been identified and his name is being withheld pending further investigation, officials said. The hunter has not been arrested.
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The fire began in mid-August and has burned more than 237,000 acres since then, some of which is within Yosemite National Park. Authorities, however, say that they've finally turned the corner in their fight to extinguish the blaze—it's currently 80 percent contained—and expect it to have it fully under control in two weeks or so.

The rumors that a pot operation may have been to blame for the accident began late last month after a local fire chief suggested that it was "highly suspected it might have been some sort of illicit grow, marijuana-grow type of thing."

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

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