YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, Calif. (AP) — There was no evidence of an illegal marijuana grow near the spot where a raging wildfire started near Yosemite National Park, a federal forestry official said Wednesday.
Investigators have ruled out the illicit activity as a potential cause, ending speculation by a local fire chief that the gardens that plague federal land could be to blame.
Jerry Snyder of the U.S. Forest Service said that the steep and inaccessible canyon where the Rim Fire started Aug. 17 in the Stanislaus National Forest doesn't have a water source that growers look for when they set up remote gardens.
"The lead investigator says there's no evidence of any type of grow in the area where the fire started," Snyder said.
Snyder also said lightning isn't to blame. It could take months for investigators to determine what ignited the blaze that has consumed more than 370 square miles of Sierra Nevada forests.
"They'll be able to tell whether there was an illegal campfire in there," he said. "Another thing to consider is that this area is very steep, and if there was a rockslide two rocks hitting together could make a spark to ignite dry brush."