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Still No Cause Released For 2018’s Donnell Fire

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Sonora, CA — It has been just over a year and five months since a fire ignited in the Stanislaus National Forest that would burn over 36,000 acres.

The Donnell Fire destroyed a combined 135 structures, including the popular Dardanelle Resort, and it also caused nine injuries. For a while it threatened the popular Kennedy Meadows Resort, as well as the 2,000 year-old Bennett Juniper Tree, which is the oldest and tallest of its species in the nation. It also destroyed cabins, temporarily closed numerous campgrounds, and blocked a stretch of Highway 108 over Sonora Pass.

The Forest Service has been pretty mum when it comes to the investigation into the fire that ignited on August 1, 2018.

We reported it was initially a 1-2 acre fire shortly after it was spotted in the vicinity of the Donnell Vista near the Donnell Inlet in the forest. Click here to view a myMotherLode.com Donnell Fire summary timeline.

Clarke Broadcasting has periodically asked the US Forest Service about whether a cause has been determined. Yesterday, Stanislaus National Forest Spokesperson Diana Fredlund, could only state, “There is still is no cause released. They (forest service law enforcement officials) are aware that it is an important piece of information and will release the cause as soon as possible.”

Comparing the investigation to other recent large fire incidents, the 2013 Rim Fire ignited on August 17, and three weeks later, on September 5, the forest service announced that the incident was ignited by a hunter’s “illegal fire.” The hunter was publicly named just under one year later, in August of 2014, when charges were formally filed.

The Butte Fire ignited on September 9, 2015 and burned over 70,000 acres in Amador and Calaveras counties. Seven months later, in April of 2016, CAL Fire announced that PG&E power equipment ignited the blaze.

Regarding the cause of the Donnell Fire, we’ll pass along the information when it becomes available.

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