California fire that burned 142 structures was human-caused

California

Charred metal and ash are all that remain of “Pete” Reyna’s Chicago Park home which burned Wednesday night due to the River Fire, Aug. 7, 2021. (Elias Funez/The Union via AP)

COLFAX, Calif. (AP) — A California wildfire that destroyed 142 structures in the Sierra Nevada last month was human-caused, authorities said Friday, but they did not reveal what led to that conclusion.

The River Fire began Aug. 4 in the overnight camping area of the Bear River Campground in Placer County, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said in a statement.

Cal Fire said investigators were working on determining “the specific details leading to the cause of the fire.”

The campground, near the city of Colfax and about 45 miles (72 kilometers) northeast of Sacramento, is part of the Placer County parks system.

According to its website, the 200-acre (81-hectare) park offers seasonal camping from April 1 through Oct. 31. Fires are allowed in designated barbecues and fire pits until each July 1. No open flames are allowed thereafter, and cooking is then only allowed on propane-type camp stoves.

The website also says the ban on open flames can begin earlier in dry years and shows the prohibition taking effect on June 1.

Sacramento TV station KXTV reported last month that the fire spread so fast that campers left tents and gear behind in the scramble to get away.

Frank Nann, who lives nearby, told the station that the campground attracts many people, and he’s been concerned about fire danger.

“The biggest concern was that someone would have a camp fire and then a hot one would get out, and that’s it — away it goes,” Nann said.

The River Fire was contained on Aug. 13 after burning 4 square miles (10.3 square kilometers) of Placer and Nevada counties.

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