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DA: Big Hill blaze caused by Cal Fire burn

A fire in March that damaged a small house was caused by a nearby controlled burn started by Cal Fire, the Tuolumne County District Attorney’s Office announced Thursday.

The March 12 vegetation fire on North Bald Mountain Road in Big HIll was started by embers from a nearby burn. Crews from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection were clearing and burning piles to create a fuel break at the time.


The fire escaped, burning two acres and a small, one-room residence. No injuries were reported.

According to previous Cal Fire reports, two hand crews, five engines and three water tenders responded and quickly contained the blaze within less than an hour.

DA Michael Knowles said his office handled the investigation to avoid a conflict of interest. The Tuolumne County Fire Department might have handled it otherwise, and the department is staffed and managed by Cal Fire through a contract with the county.

Knowles said the fire is an example of how extreme the fire conditions are becoming in the midst of a multi-year drought.

Knowles said further action from his office is “possible, but not a high probability.” 

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