Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Cyclists incensed after bike pedal blamed in Sierra wildfire

A lot of things can start a wildfire: lawn mowers, gunfire, smoldering cigarettes. It makes sense in a state dried out by drought. But the latest culprit — a bike — is largely unheard of as a source of ignition, and is being met with disbelief in some circles. U.S. Forest Service investigators say a bicycle pedal that scraped a rock and shot sparks on a mountain bike trail was responsible for a 122-acre blaze in the eastern Sierra this month, a finding that unleashed a firestorm of incredulity on the Internet. “There is no chance in hell it happened like this. So absurd to even make this official,” wrote one of the more than 100 skeptics who commented on the Inyo National Forest’s Facebook page since the cause of the fire near Mammoth Lakes was reported last week. “Unless there is clear video of this ‘pedal strike ignition,’ it is 99.999 percent anticyclist BS,” another person posted. A mock image of a fire-starter kit, including a bicycle pedal, began circulating on social media in protest of Wednesday’s fire report. Forest Service officials say they’re surprised by the backlash. But that doesn’t change their verdict on the Rock Creek Fire. Fire prevention technician Kirstie Butler said a comprehensive investigation, which included locating a rock with a pedal scrap on it and speaking to several mountain bikers in the area at the time, revealed conclusively what caused the fire. As unlikely as it may sound, she said, the afternoon of Aug. 5 was so hot and dry that a spark from a bike pedal against a rock, acting like a flint, was able to ignite cheatgrass and spread to brush and trees on the surrounding hillsides...more

1 comment:

Dave Pickel said...

I don't doubt it. It doesn't take much to torch cheat grass.