Mountain Biking

Mountain Bike Pedal Sparks 122-Acre Forest Fire After Scraping Rock in California

"It would have been like striking a flint..."

A spark caused when a mountain bike pedal scratched against a rock on the Lower Rock Creek Trail in Eastern California has been blamed for the 122-acre forest fire that followed in the area.

A statement posted on Wednesday on the Inyo National Forest Facebook claimed that fire investigators have determined the cause after looking into the blaze, which took place in the National Forest that reaches parts of California and Nevada.

The statement read: “The cause of the Rock Creek fire that started on August 5th has been determined. Investigators have concluded that the fire was started from a bicycle pedal strike to a rock. Conclusive evidence was found in the fire origin area that was on the Lower Rock Creek mountain bike trail. A fire ignition from this type of trigger is a testament to how dry the area is right now. All residents and visitors are asked to be extremely careful with anything that may cause a fire while you are out in the forest.”

The fire investigators impressively traced the source of the fire back to a singular rock on Lower Rock Creek Trail.

The rock in question was surrounded by dried out cheatgrass, fuel for forest fires, and marks on the rock and sharps of metal left behind allegedly showed it was a strike from a pedal that had set the fire off.

Fire prevention technician Kirstie Butler told Bike Radar while “the exact cause of many forest fires go unresolved,” the evidence in this case confirmed the cause.

She said: “All the holes in the Swiss cheese lined up perfectly. It really doesn’t take much for cheatgrass to ignite. Anything could start a fire in conditions like this. It would have been like striking a flint.

“This is not about pointing fingers. We know it wasn’t done maliciously. We understand that mountain biking is a popular activity and we’re not trying to say that this is a reason to stop. It’s just something to be aware of.”

Butler also noted that there are several incidents before where sparks from lawnmowers and chainsaws have caused huge wildfires, and in 2016 alone there have been a huge 4084 wildfires in California; burning a massive 150,498 acres.

Butler is a mountain biker herself and does not believe the incident will cause any trail closures or that mountain bikers as a group are particularly dangerous when it comes to forest fires.

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