Federal Charges Likely to Be Brought in Yosemite Fire

By - December 6, 2013
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YosemiteFireA hunter who was accused of starting a wildfire that ripped through Yosemite National Park last year is going to be hit with federal charges, it was reported this week.

The US Attorney’s Office on the case has stated that the suspect will be charged on the federal level because the federal government has more resources to secure a conviction

US fire fighting officials stated that the hunter started an illegal campfire in Stanislaus National Forest. It soon grew out of control and turned into a 402 square mile fire, which was the third largest fire ever in the state of California

The fire began Aug. 17, lasting for more than two months, and it burned the western areas of Yosemite. It forced roads to be closed, tourists had to cancel vacations, and dozens of homes and cabins were wiped out. State officials have stated that losses were over $50 million. The firefighting costs were $127 million.

The consequences for starting a wildfire even when it is accident, vary depending upon if the person starting the fire was reckless in any way.

In Contra Costa County in California, prosecutors recently declined to charge a target shooter who accidentally started a fire on Mount Diablo with his gun.

In 2004, a man who started a large fire in Redding CA got four years in prison. He was mowing dry grass which started a major fire that destroyed 90 homes. The fire starter was warned several times to stop mowing the dry grass, but he persisted. That type of recklessness is what can lead to severe consequences.

According to reports after what was called the Rim Fire, about 40% of the area that was burned was just charred land. It left what was called a barren moonscape in the mountains there that is bigger than any fire that burned there in hundreds of years.

The fire burned 400 square miles and about 60 square miles burned so much that nothing is left.

A fire ecologist on the scene said that part of the area burned was effectively nuked and nothing was left that was alive. He stated that no fire has left such a landscape in ruin in Yosemite since a fire that began in approximately 1350.

In the years before people would start to control forest fires, areas in the Sierra Nevadas would burn every decade or so. This would clear growth under the big trees and would provide clearings for new trees to grow. Modern practices of fire suppression, as well as cuts in the budgets for forestry services have created higher risks of serious fires. Also, many residents in the polluted San Joaquin Valley do not want smoke coming into the valley from controlled burns.