After initial fictional reports that "marijuana" was the cause of the devastating High Sierra inferno that nearly burned up Yosemite National Park, the actual cause has been found. It was a man shooting wildlife in the forest, and his illegal campfire started the 370-square-mile Rim Fire.
Because it burned right up to Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, which provides both water and power to millions of people in the Bay Area, Governor Jerry Brown declared an emergency for San Francisco and its suburbs. Many campgrounds and roads in and around Yosemite were closed during the busy last weeks of summer vacation. The blaze was so big and so hot that it created its own climate, with massive thunderstorms building up over the heat and causing lightning strikes in the surrounding forest.
Now 80% contained, the Rim Fire burned out of control for two weeks. It has cost $72 million, so far. But the fire damage to the mountains, forests, wildlife and watersheds are not included in these figures because how would you even measure that?
The Forest Service has not released the hunter's name, and the sheriff has not arrested him.
[Photo via Getty Images.]