The massive forest fire that has scorched 333 square miles in and around Yosemite National Park may have been sparked by illegal marijuana growers, according to one fire official in Tuolumne County.
The San Jose Mercury News reports that Todd McNeal, chief of the Twain Harte Fire Department, told a community meeting that it was "highly suspect that there might have been some sort of illicit grove, a marijuana-grow-type thing."
McNeal, who has 23 years of experience with Forest Service, the National Park Service and other agencies, said at the Aug.
23 meeting that investigators know the fire is human caused since there was know lightening in the area.
The fire started Aug. 17 and its exact cause remains under investigation. It is expected to keep burning long after it is fully contained, and recovery will be extensive. Some 7,000 damaged trees next to power lines will need to be removed by utility crews and 800 guardrail posts will need to be replaced on Route 120, a fire fact sheet said.
Nearly a third of the blaze was contained Friday and some small communities in the mountainous area were no longer under evacuation advisories, but smoke descending down into San Joaquin Valley cities was becoming a problem.
In a sign of progress, a few dozen firefighters were released and more could be sent home in coming days, said Daniel Berlant, spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. More than 4,800 firefighters remained on the scene late Friday.
The new, moderate face Iran is showing the world belies a sinister spike in executions in the country, with hundreds killed for such crimes as “waging war against God,” according to a human rights group.
At least 529 people have been put to death in Iran this year, including more than 300 since President Hassan Rouhani assumed office in August, according to the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center. Other groups estimate the number killed in Iran at more than 600 this year.