The wildfire still burning north of Yosemite National Park — you know, the one that has charred 237,341 acres and was at one point one of the largest fires in recent California history — was started by a hunter's illegal fire.
The U.S. Forest Service said in a statement that its investigators had concluded that the Rim Fire "began when a hunter allowed an illegal fire to escape."
Authorities, said the Forest Service, have made no arrest and they are not releasing the name of the hunter.
As The Denver Post notes, "Protecting homes from wildfires is increasingly costly . Nearly 1 million acres of forest in Colorado contain residential and commercial development. That area is expected to top 2 million acres by 2030." Under a proposal, current and future homes in the wildland-urban interface may face mitigation standards and higher insurance costs.
Once again, this summer, the Western United States saw plenty of forest fires. Many of them, like California’s Rim Fire, continue to burn. When the flames are extinguished, the dollar signs emerge. States handle fire suppression costs differently. In Colorado, it depends on what kind of land is burning and how big the blaze is.
"The fundamental problem is we're living in Colorado because we love nature," Andrew Dunham of Colorado College tells the Denver Post. "And nature burns."
That love of nature contributes to a growing Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI), expected to reach 2.2 million acres by 2030. Now policies of fire suppression, drought, local controls and natural problems like pine beetles are contributing to increased fire dangers - and prompting a search for solutions.
A governor's task force and a legislative committee have been exploring possible solutions to problems that continue to grow as more and more people move into Colorado's "red zones," the high fire-risk areas that more than one-fourth of the state's population calls home.