The Tuolumne County District Attorney's Office and Forest Service Investigators revealed that the 200,000 acre wildfire west of Yosemite National Park was caused by a hunter. Apparently, his fire got out of control. In a National Forest, you must have a permit if you plan to use a fire. The blaze began August 17 and has destroyed over 100 buildings. Nearly 5,000 firefighters fought the blaze – the 4th largest in California history. The cost of fighting the fire is now estimated at $85 million.
Recently, some surmised that an illegal marijuana operation was involved. Investigators said there was no evidence of any such operation in the area. The local terrain is not friendly to marijuana cultivation. The steep canyons and lack of water prohibit the growing of it.
Officials know who the hunter is but are not releasing his name for now. It can be surmised that the individual registered for a fire permit and his name was recorded. His fire could have gotten out of control in the hot, dry forest. Investigators are providing no additional information.
The fire stands at 80% contained, with humidity at 33% but southwest winds near 20 mph keep the fire growing. The target for full containment is September 20. The towns of Groveland and Buck Meadows have suffered economically as evacuations and road closures have resulted in massive losses of revenue from Park visitors. The main artery from the San Francisco Bay area is California Hwy 120 is closed. It will be several weeks before it can reopen. Active fire suppression work will be done for some time, then a massive cleanup required before the public will allowed in via the Big Oak Flat entrance.