ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST — Federal fire investigators confirmed over the weekend that, as initially suspected, the Williams Fire was sparked by a parked car.
The wildfire ignited shortly after 2 p.m. Sept. 2 near Camp Williams, along East Fork Road, and grew to 4,192 acres before hundreds of firefighters fully contained it Tuesday, officials said. About 315 personnel continue to monitor and “mop up” the largely inactive fire.
It was sparked by a car parked on tall grass, ANF Supervisor Nathan Judy said. The hot undercarriage of the car ignited the grass, which set the car ablaze and ignited what what later become known as the Williams Fire. The fire spread quickly uphill.
“(The car) was parked right next to a steep hillside in a canyon,” Judy said.
Officials have been aware of the possibility a car sparked the fire since the day it first erupted and grew to over 1,000 acres.
Sheriff’s deputies initially responded to a report of a car fire when they encountered the wildfire. A tow truck was seen removing a badly charred car from the forest during the first day of the incident.
The car belonged to a forest visitor, Judy said, and it will be up to prosecutors to determine whether any criminal charges will be filed in connection with the fire.
In the meantime, Judy described the official determination of the cause as a “teachable moment,” and advised forest visitors to be mindful of where they park their cars, avoiding flammable materials such as tall grasses.
No structures were damaged by the Williams fire, and the only injuries reported were a handful of heat-related issues experienced by firefighters.
Officials said the cost of fighting the Williams Fire exceeded $8 million.