'POTTER VALLEY, Calif. — It was a fire that crossed mountain ranges and valleys, that spanned multiple counties and shocked Californians by its sheer scale — by far the biggest wildfire in modern state history. And yet a newly disclosed investigation suggests it was probably started by a single man and a single spark.
In a report released in recent days, forensic investigators found that a rancher started the fire when hammering a metal stake in his backyard to snuff out a wasp nest. Sparks flew, igniting dry grass stalks and spreading fire quickly across the desiccated landscape.
The rancher’s name was not disclosed, but a review of records led to the home of Glenn Kile, a former heavy equipment operator in his mid-50s, who had no inkling of the devastation he would unleash on a Friday morning last July while tinkering in his backyard. Seeing the fire, he said, came as a shock.
“I smelled smoke, I turned around, and there it was,” Mr. Kile said in an interview on the porch of his barn-red, two-story home this week. Mr. Kile, who has not talked publicly about the fire before, referred to it as if it had been an apparition. “There was nothing I could do,” he said.
During a morning of chores on his ranch three hours north of San Francisco, he had spotted an underground wasp nest. He grabbed a metal stake and pounded it into the hole to try to seal it off, according to an investigation by California’s fire agency. He told investigators he was allergic to stings and wanted to plug the hole.'
Read more: He tried to plug a wasp nest and started California's biggest forest fire - (Ugh? Wasn't it supposed to be global warming?)
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