A U.S. Forest Service official said Wednesday that the massive
"That was only one of many rumors," said Jerry Snyder of the U.S. Forest Service.
Full containment of the 370-square-mile Rim fire isn't expected for two weeks and investigators aren't sure what started it. The rumor that marijuana growers may have been involved began when Twain Harte Fire and Rescue Chief Todd McNeal told a community meeting that the blaze was definitely human-caused.
On Aug. 23, McNeal said the fire started in a section of the Stanislaus National Forest that is inaccessible by foot or vehicle and that it was "highly suspected" that an illegal "marijuana-grow type of thing" had somehow sparked the blaze.
But Snyder said that at this point in their review, investigators have not found any evidence that marijuana was grown in the area where the fire probably started Aug. 17.
There would also have been no real access for illegal growers, Snyder said, and there was no probable water source evident.
"Most of these gardens, they need access ... they need to be able to get in there ... and there are no roads in this area," Snyder said. "You need a water source ... this fire started considerably above the river."
The fire is 80% contained and Snyder said it is estimated that full containment will be about Sept. 20. The Rim fire has destroyed 111 buildings, including 11 residences. It has so far cost $72 million to fight.