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Hunter caused huge wildfire near Yosemite, Forest Service says

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A gigantic wildfire in and around Yosemite National Park was caused by an illegal fire set by a hunter, the U.S. Forest Service said Thursday.

The agency said there is no indication the hunter was involved with illegal marijuana 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. No details were released on how the illegal fire in a remote canyon of the Stanislaus National Forest escaped the hunter's control. Because of high fire danger, the Forest Service had banned fires outside of developed camping areas more than a week before the fire started.

"We're not going to release any more information while the investigation is ongoing," said Ray Mooney, a spokesman for the U.S. Forest Service.

When the investigation is complete, the Department of Justice would decide whether to seek restitution.

The Rim Fire has burned nearly 371 square miles — one of the largest wildfires in California history — and has cost $81 million to fight.

Officials said 111 structures, including 11 homes, have been destroyed. Thousands of firefighters were called in to battle the blaze, which at one point threatened more than 4,000 structures. It is now 80 percent contained.

Hunter caused huge wildfire near Yosemite, Forest Service says 09/05/13 [Last modified: Thursday, September 5, 2013 10:25pm]
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