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NICOLLS FIRE LAND DAMAGE, INVESTIGATION AND REPAIR - 2014/07/29 06:36 NICOLLS FIRE LAND DAMAGE, INVESTIGATION AND REPAIR
Kernville, California, July 28, 2014 – The cause of the recent Nicolls Fire, in the Sequoia National Forest’s (SQF) Kiavah Wilderness Area, has been released.

US Attorney Office released the alleged indictment against Eduardo Fournier of Perris, Ca. Fourier was allegedly tending his marijuana plants and started several fires. He is charged with manufacturing marijuana, possessing marijuana with intent to distribute, damaging public land and natural resources, and setting timber on fire. Presently Fournier is in custody and will be arraigned on the charges July 28th.

Forest Service Law Enforcement investigators and firefighting resources responded to the report of the Nicolls Fire on July 11, 2014. According to Forest Service investigators, aircraft personnel reported a man near the base of the fire when it started. Allegedly and for undetermined reasons, he left the marijuana garden site, lighting fires as he walked out of Smith Canyon.
The investigation team was flown into the site, by helicopter, where they seized and eradicated over 2,090 marijuana plants and rounds of ammunition.
In addition to the damage caused by the Nicolls wildfire, the marijuana cultivation operation caused significant damage to the land and natural resources. This damage comes at a high price in both fire suppression activities and the restoration of the site.
Investigators went on to state, “The forest service is now tasked to clean and restore the site in the fall of this year. This entails utilizing helicopters to fly back in, removing water lines, camping gear, clothing, fertilizer, tools and an enormous amount of trash.” The work will require Law Enforcement personnel and firefighters to complete.

This video highlights the tragic effects of illegal marijuana cultivation on public lands and demonstrates the outcome of these growing operations. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IFNe_KZhPZw

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MARIJUANA GROWER CHARGED WITH SPARKING NICOLLS FIRE THE RECORDER - 2014/07/29 06:38 http://www.recorderonline.com/.../article_b6c57b8a-1410...
MARIJUANA GROWER CHARGED WITH SPARKING NICOLLS FIRE
THE RECORDER

recorder@portervillerecorder.com | Posted: Friday, July 25, 2014 8:30 am

FRESNO — A marijuana grower has been charged with starting the Nicolls Fire, which scorched nearly 1,700 acres in the Kiavah Wilderness Area in the Sequoia National Forest.

A federal grand jury in Fresno returned a five-count indictment Wednesday against Edgardo Fournier, 45, of Perris.

According to court documents, Fournier was allegedly tending his plants and started several fires while leaving the pot plot on July 11. The blaze spread quickly in rough terrain, and burned for more than a week. The efforts of 900 wildland firefighters and a sustained air attack were required to extinguish the blaze.

Officials found and destroyed 2,090 marijuana plants at the site, located southeast of the town of Onyx. Forest Service agents eradicated the plants, and seized rounds of ammunition found at the location.

Fournier is charged with manufacturing marijuana, possessing marijuana with intent to distribute, damaging public land and natural resources, and setting timber afire. He is also charged with conspiring to manufacture, distribute and possess with intent to distribute marijuana.

In addition to the fire damage, the marijuana cultivation operation caused significant damage to the land and natural resources in the forest, according to a U.S. Department of Justice press release.

Fournier is in custody and is being held as a flight risk and danger to the community, according to the press release. He will be arraigned on the charges July 28.

If found guilty of starting the fire, Fournier faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The damaging public lands charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine. He could be sentenced to 10 years-to-life and be fined up to $10 million for the drug offenses if found guilty.

The investigation was conducted by the Forest Service, the federal Bureau of Land Management and the Kern County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen A. Escobar is prosecuting the case.

The case marks the second time this summer that an alleged marijuana grower has been charged with starting a forest fire in California.

A man delivering soil additives to an illegal grow site has been charged with touching off the Bully Fire when the exhaust system on his truck ignited dry grass. The blaze has burned 12,661 acres in Shasta County.
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