Pot grower responsible for Nicholls Fire in California sentenced


A man was sentenced Tuesday to nearly seven years in federal prison for his involvement in a large-scale marijuana cultivation operation on federal land in Kern County and for his role in starting the Nicolls Fire.

Edgardo Fournier, 46, of Perris, was also ordered to pay restitution of more than $6.5 million to the U.S. Forest Service.

The Nicolls Fire burned more than 1,500 acres in July 2014 in the Onyx Peak area. The fire was so remote that it didn’t threaten structures of force road closures.



According to court documents, from about April 1, 2014 to July 12, 2014, Fournier helped water and tend 2,090 marijuana plants at a grow site in the Smith Canyon area of the Sequoia National Forest in Kern County. He admitted that on July 11 and 12, he lit fires in the vicinity of the grow site within the boundaries of the federally designated Kiavah Wilderness Area. The fires converged and became known as the Nicolls Fire. The Nicolls Fire destroyed about 1,680 acres of public land causing over $6.5 million of damage. The fire did not damage the marijuana cultivation site, which also caused significant damage to the land and natural resources of the forest.

This case was the product of an investigation by the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and the Kern County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant United States Attorney Karen Escobar prosecuted the case.

Related story on Wildfire Today:

Suspected California pot-grower charged with starting Nicolls Fire (July 25, 2014)

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.