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Cal Fire investigators: Recent Mariposa wildfires were caused by vehicles

The Ben Fire in Mariposa County, west of Ahwahnee, was reported at 630 acres before it was fully contained. Cal Fire investigators say a vehicle driving through tall, dry grass was the cause of the blaze.
The Ben Fire in Mariposa County, west of Ahwahnee, was reported at 630 acres before it was fully contained. Cal Fire investigators say a vehicle driving through tall, dry grass was the cause of the blaze. Submitted photo

Peace officers with Cal Fire’s Madera-Mariposa-Merced Unit said Monday that vehicles driving in tall, dead grass is what caused two recent wildfires in Mariposa County, including the Ben Fire that burned 630 acres.

Any person who accidentally starts a wildfire can be held liable for fire suppression costs, Cal Fire officials noted.

The Ben Fire was sparked along Ben Hur Road June 28 and was fully contained July 2. A smaller fire, in the Hornitos area near Bear Valley Road, was started June 30 and burned a small amount of vegetation before it was quickly contained.

Bernie Quinn, Cal Fire’s prevention bureau chief, said in Monday’s release the common factor in both fires was vehicles driving through tall, dry grass.

He encouraged all residents to be aware and take precautions to prevent such wildfires, and offered the following tips:

Prior to operating a vehicle, ensure all tires are properly inflated, brakes are in good working condition, and the vehicle is well maintained.

If towing a trailer, make sure all towing chains are secure.

Frequently check vehicle gauges.

Never drive or park a vehicle in tall, dry grass.

For more information, visit www.ReadyForWidlfire.org.

Cal Fire

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