CALIFORNIA (FOX NEWS) - The Rim fires in California may be linked to pot farms, Fox News correspondent, Dominic Dinatale has the latest from California.
They think they know, a fire official from one of the towns threatened by the blaze tells Fox News that the cause of the fire could be linked to marijuana operations in the Stanislaus national Forest, where it started August 17th.
Chief Todd McNeal with Twain Harte Fire and Rescue says a pot farm is suspected, but stresses that the cause is still under investigation and to be determined.
McNeal says based on the information the authorities already know, pot farming is a possibility.
McNeal first brought the suspicion to light August 23rd during a community meeting.
A video of that has appeared on YouTube - although it wasn't meant to be the official word from cal fire.
His actual words in that video were - quote –“it was "highly suspect that there might have been some sort of illicit grove, a marijuana-grow-type thing."
McNeal says he's standing by what he said but said he was too busy actually fighting the rim fire to do a formal interview with us.
He added lightening can be ruled out because there were no electrical or thunderstorms around the time the fire started.
And he told us the location where the fire began is so remote, you have to make a real effort to get there - including being dropped in via chopper.
Well, huge pot plantations keep being discovered in national forests and the authorities say they're run by Mexican drug cartels who winch workers in to these sites.
If it is cartels, they've cost the public a lot of money: $80 million is how much the Rim fire has cost to fight so far.
Two hundred 22 thousand acres that have gone
The good news is firefighters are making steady progress in containing it - 40 percent of it controlled.
As it edges towards being one of the top four largest wildfires on record in California.
In Los Angles, Dominic Dinatale, Fox News