Arson in Yosemite burns 2,000 acres
October 16, 2004
YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, Calif. – Park rangers Saturday discovered a body that resembles a man suspected of setting a 2,000-acre fire in Yosemite National Park, authorities said.
Rangers in a helicopter spotted the body in the Hetch Hetchy basin near Tiltill Valley, less than a quarter mile from where the fire was originally ignited, according to park spokesman Scott Gediman.
The body was sent to a medical examiner to determine its identity and the cause of death.
On Friday, hikers told authorities they had seen a man lighting fires and brandishing a gun on a trail in the basin, in the northwest portion of the park. Park rangers spotted the armed man from the air, but decided against actively pursuing him.
The body found Saturday closely matches the description of the suspected arsonist, Gediman said.
The fire was burning in remote, rugged wilderness, and no structures were threatened, Gediman said.
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Fire crews were building a line around the blaze to contain it, he said.
The fire is near the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, which provides water to more than 2.4 million San Francisco-area residents.
The wildfire was one of several in Northern California on Saturday.
Firefighters gained on a 7,700-acre blaze near Highway 50, which links Sacramento and South Lake Tahoe. The fire was 65 percent contained Saturday; Kyburz residents were allowed to return home Friday, but others in nearby Silver Fork were kept away as firefighters burned out areas to protect summer cabins, fire officials said.
South of that fire, crews had a 12,900-acre blaze 40 percent contained, but full containment was not expected for another week because of a heavy concentration of dead trees and brush.
The state’s largest fire, a 39,138-acre blaze in Yolo and Napa counties northeast of San Francisco, was almost fully contained Saturday.
On the Net:
National Interagency Fire Center: http://www.nifc.gov/