Wildfire briefing, November 25, 2015

Man killed in Bully Fire identified

Bully Fire
Bully Fire as seen from 35,000 feet. Photo by Sandym415.

The man who was killed in the Bully Fire in July near Ono, California has been identified as Jesus Arellano Garcia, 35, of Michoacán, Mexico. The body was badly burned and investigators used DNA and circumstantial evidence to make the identification. The fire eventually burned 12,661 acres in Shasta County.

There is a $500,000 bench warrant for the arrest of Freddie Alexander Smoke III who allegedly started the Bully Fire as he was driving a truck to a marijuana plantation he was tending. Mr. Smoke was arrested the day the fire started and charged with causing the fire, but was freed after posting a $10,000 bail. The bench warrant was issued after he failed to show up on August 22 for an arraignment in which he was going to be charged with an additional crime, involuntary manslaughter.

Some California residents hope to overturn Fire Prevention Fee

As California residents in semi-rural areas are receiving their annual $150 bill for the state’s “Fire Prevention Fee”, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayer Association is continuing their litigation over what they call an illegal tax. Some residents say they already pay property taxes to support their local fire departments.

Below is an excerpt from an article in the San Diego Reader:

The lawsuit alleges that after Cal Fire’s loss of $80 million in funding due to 2011’s lingering budget crisis, then-assemblyman Robert Blumenfield (D-Van Nuys) pushed through as an emergency, carefully worded ABX1 29, stating the $150 fee was needed for “benefit services.” By not labeling it as a tax, a two-thirds vote of the legislature was not required. Fellow Democratic legislators quickly passed the bill, and Governor Brown signed it.

Cal Fire claims that in wildfire crises in those semi-rural areas they usually become the lead firefighting agency.

Suspected California pot-grower charged with starting Nicolls Fire

A second California man suspected of running an illegal pot-growing operation has been charged with igniting a wildfire, this time in the Sequoia National Forest.

Edgardo Fournier was indicted by a federal grand jury on Thursday and charged with cultivating thousands of marijuana plants, damaging forest lands and starting the Nicolls fire, The Sacramento Bee reported.

Fournier allegedly ignited the blaze when he learned that other men working on the grow planned to kill him, according to court documents. Fournier told investigators he was fleeing other men on July 11 when he decided to light small fires with a cigarette lighter to stop the pursuit, The Bee reported.

The fire eventually grew to more than 1,600 acres and could incur millions of dollars in damages.

The same day the Nicolls fire ignited, California authorities say that Freddie Alexander Smoke III allegedly started the Bully Fire as he was driving a truck to a marijuana grow he was tending.

The Bully Fire has burned 12,661 acres and destroyed 21 structures. A body of person was also later found within the fire perimeter.

Person killed escaping flames from Bully Fire

California’s Bully Fire has killed one person, who officials say was likely trying to flee the blaze, local media is reporting. 

The body was discovered inside the fire perimeter on Wednesday; on Thursday CAL FIRE officials confirmed that the person died while likely fleeing the fire when it started on July 11.

It has since burned 10,700 acres and is 47 percent contained, according to CAL FIRE’s general information site. The fire is burning 21 southwest of Redding.

Officials believe the fire was accidentally set when a man was driving his truck to an illegal marijuana in Shasta County. Freddie Alexander Smoke III was arrested on Saturday on suspicion of starting the fire.

Freddie Smoke arrested for starting fire at pot farm

Map of Bully fire
Map of Bully Fire at 10:27 p.m. PDT, July 12, 2014. The yellow and red squares represent the locations of heat detected by a satellite.

Freddie Alexander Smoke III was arrested Saturday, accused of starting a fire and of marijuana cultivation, CAL FIRE announced Saturday. The fire became the Bully Fire 21 miles southwest of Redding, California which was mapped Sunday morning at 3,700 acres.

CAL FIRE said the 27-year old Mr. Smoke was delivering material to a pot site in Shasta County on July 11 when the exhaust from his truck ignited dry grass. At least 15 residences and 50 other structures are threatened. The fire, 7 miles southwest of Ono, is being fought by 1,056 personnel, 33 engines, 38 hand crews, 10 helicopters, 5 air tankers, and 16 dozers.

The photo below shows what the Bully Fire looked like on Saturday from 35,000 feet.