The U.S. Forest Service Law Enforcement & Investigations has determined what caused the blaze that has so far burned 237, 341 acres in California.
U.S. Forest Service Law Enforcement & Investigations investigators released the results of their investigations to date, August 5, 2013. The cause of the fire was released at the InciWeb website, and notes that an illegal fire from a hunter was to blame, The Forest Service reports there were no indications of an illegal marijuana grow site near the origin of the fire.
The hunters name is not being released at this time. The Rim Fire is now at 80 percent containment and has cost in excess of $81 million to fight.
4,359 personnel are still working on the fire, which includes 746 inmates from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
At this date there are 110.7 miles of containment lines completed, 149.7 miles of dozer lines were cut, hand cut lines were 9.3 miles, and 19.9 miles of road were used as containment lines. A bit of quick addition shows 289.6 miles of fire line were created or used to contain the Rim Fire.
In past fires, such as the 1987 Stanislaus Complex Fire, the bulk of the hand lines cut, have been created by inmate crews who specialize in fire fighting activity when needed. A hardier group of men might be difficult to find. The work is extremely physical, and nearly always in areas where equipment is simply not capable of going. The steepest, most rugged terrain is where they work.
Forty-four states plus the District of Columbia sent firefighters to assist in controlling this fire which appears to have been caused by sheer negligence or carelessness on the part of one person. Smokey Bear would be very disappointed.
Tuolumne County District Attorney Michael Knowles is quoted at MML, as making a statement today, August 5, 2013: "The Tuolumne County District Attorney's Office has been and is involved in joint investigation of the "Rim Fire" with agents of the United States Forest Service. The devastating impact on our beloved forest and the communities within Tuolumne County demands, deserves, and has been receiving the strictest scrutiny of this incident at all levels. Cooperation is exemplary. The Tuolumne County District Attorney's Office does not comment on active investigations. The District Attorney respects the public right and need to accurate information. Information will be available when the rights and safety of individuals as well as the integrity of the system process are not in jeopardy."