Vehicle's catalytic converter started Ferguson wildfire

Ferguson, Carr fires started by vehicles

By RALPH ELLIS AND SHEENA JONES, CNN

(CNN) - Almost from the start, authorities said a vehicle somehow started the Ferguson Fire, a California wildfire that ended up burning almost 100,000 acres over the summer.

On Friday, the US Forest Service issued a news release with more detail, saying "investigators believe superheated pieces of a catalytic converter came into contact with dry, roadside vegetation, igniting the fire."

The fire burned through 96,601 acres of the Sierra National Forest, Stanislaus National forest, Yosemite National Park and state lands, the release says. The fire, which is now contained, killed two people.

Investigators haven't located the vehicle and are seeking the public's help in finding it. No description of the vehicle was provided. The fire started around 8-8:25 p.m. on Friday, July 13, along eastbound Highway 140 near Savage's Trading Post, the news release said.

Motorists are responsible for many of wildfires sparked along roadways, the Forest Service said.

Nearly all these fires could be prevented with proper vehicle maintenance and safety measures, such as maintaining proper tire pressure and not dragging parts on the road, the news release said.

The Carr Fire that started July 23 near Redding, California, was caused by a vehicle.

Investigators said a tire failed on a trailer and its rim scraped the asphalt, sending out sparks that ignited the blaze. The fire eventually consumed almost 230,000 acres and destroyed 1.079 structures, according to CalFire, the state fire agency.

The fire killed seven people, including three firefighters. It was contained in last August.

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