Tuesday, June 11, 2019

"He Tried to Plug a Wasp Nest. He Ended Up Sparking California’s Biggest Wildfire"

NYT:

In a report released in recent days, forensic investigators found that a rancher started the fire when hammering a metal stake in his backyard to snuff out a wasp nest. Sparks flew, igniting dry grass stalks and spreading fire quickly across the desiccated landscape.

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He said at first he tried to stop the fire by throwing a nearby trampoline and an old carpet on it; he shoveled dirt on the flames and then tried to douse them with water from a hose that melted and would not unkink.

Then, according to the Cal Fire report, “he unhooked his trailer and tried to put the fire out by ‘kicking up dirt’ ahead of it with his four-wheeler.” Moments later, “He lost control of his four-wheeler, which rolled downhill and lodged between the water tanks and the cut bank.”

Finally, when nothing worked, he ran down the hill and dialed 911.

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The fire burned 410,203 acres of California wild lands, an area half the size of Rhode Island

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The Cal Fire report detailed the steps investigators took to analyze the cause. Using magnets and tweezers, they found tiny metal shards near the wasp nest.