On July 13, the Feguson Fire erupted in Mariposa County, eventually burning 96,000 acres, killing two firefighters and closing down Yosemite Park. On August 19, the fire was 100 percent contained.
Now, officials have determined that the fire was caused by a motor vehicle.
Investigators from the U.S. Forest Service announced that the fire was caused when a superheated pieces of a catalytic converter made contact with dry vegetation on Highway 140, along the Merced River. The roadway is one of just a few that bring motorists from the cities of California to Yosemite National Park.
The fire became one of the three devastating fires in Northern California during the fires season that saw over a million acres of land burned. The Carr Fire was also caused by a motor vehicle, while the cause of the Mendocino Complex Fire, California’s largest ever, is still undetermined.
The Ferguson Fire destroyed 10 structures, some of which were vacation cabins. Firefighters Braden Varney and Brian Hughes lost their lives fighting the blaze and 19 more firefighters were injured. The 5-week battle with the flames cost a total of $116.9 million.
The results of the investigation is not a shock, as motor vehicles have increasingly become the sparks that light the flames of massive wildfires in NorCal during dry, hot summer months.
According to the Forest Service, nearly all these fires could be prevented with proper vehicle maintenance and safety measures:
• Practice safe towing – Secure Chains
• Maintain your Vehicle – Be sure there are no Dragging Parts
• Maintain Tires – Check Tire Pressure and Tread
• Carry a fire extinguisher
• Do not drive or park on dry grass or brush