Mariposa & Yosemite

Officials reveal some new details on what may have sparked the Ferguson Fire

Yosemite National Park’s history of wildfires

The Ferguson wildfire has forced thousands to evacuate Yosemite, but this isn't the first time a wildfire has ravaged Yosemite.
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The Ferguson wildfire has forced thousands to evacuate Yosemite, but this isn't the first time a wildfire has ravaged Yosemite.

U.S. Forest Service officials investigating the cause of this summer’s Ferguson Fire in Mariposa County said evidence now points to some type of truck or large vehicle.

Stanton Florea, spokesperson for the U.S. Forest Service, said the overheated pieces of catalytic converter responsible for the 96,901-acre Mariposa County blaze that burned for more than a month between July and August were relatively large, leading investigators to believe it came from a truck or a larger vehicle.

“It could still have been a sedan, it’s just not as likely based on the pieces that were there,” Florea said. Still, he said, fire investigators encouraged anyone with information to come forward regardless of whether it may contradict findings released to the public so far.

“Our biggest thing is soliciting information from the public,” he said.

Florea said the converter pieces were found at the origin point--near the Savages Trading Post along Highway 140-- around the beginning of the fire’s lifespan, but the investigation lasted as long as it did in order to eliminate all other possible causes.

“There was a vehicle there a little ways away and lots of stuff alongside the road where the fire started that all could have started it,” he said.

Investigators aim to be extremely careful in these cases, making sure to eliminate all other possibilities before arriving on a definite cause.

The cause of the fire was revealed on Oct. 5.

If the vehicle responsible for the blaze is found, Florea said the consequences would then be dependent on whether it was arson, negligence or an accident.

Florean said whoever is found responsible could be charged with some or all of the Ferguson Fire suppression costs, which was $116.9 million as of the fire’s full containment on Aug. 19. The battle against the fire cost two firefighters their lives, injured another 19 and destroyed 10 structures.

The fire burned through land in Yosemite National Park, Sierra National Forest and Stanislaus National Forest and forced a majority of Yosemite into a three-week-long closure.

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