Officials say an unlikely culprit is to blame for one of the many wildfires currently ravaging the California wilderness, but their unusual findings are being met with skepticism and disbelief. The Chronicle reports that investigators with the US Forest Service have pinned the cause of the Rock Creek Fire in Inyo National Forest on a bicycle — a bike pedal, to be precise.
"Investigators have concluded that the fire was started from a bicycle pedal strike to a rock," officials with the US Forest Service explained on their Facebook page. "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."
The Rock Creek Fire started on August 5 and encompassed 122 acres. While it was initially believed to be human caused, that a bike pedal is at fault instead of, say, a campfire, a cigarette, a joint, or a woman high on drugs with an exposed wheel rim, isn't sitting well with some commenters on the US Forest Service's Facebook page.
"I'm an avid mountain biker and I can tell you it's highly unlikely a pedal strike caused this fire," wrote one man (punctuation corrected throughout). "As others have said, pedals are primarily constructed of aluminum alloy not steel. The internal parts that are steel are recessed in such a way that contact with a rock would not happen."
The sentiment was shared by others. "I call BS as a scientific skeptic until someone can show this actually happening," wrote another person on Facebook. "If this really could happen, it would happen more often and we would have already seen this occurring while in a mountain bike ride."
The Lower Rock Creek Trail is a 7.8-mile-long mountain biking trail that passes through the national forest, so it would not be unusual for cyclists to be in the area. Fire prevention technician Kirstie Butler told the Chronicle that officials do not know who was riding the bike that caused the spark, but that as it is believed to be accidental they are not pursuing the matter for prosecution.
Officials say that the probability of this happening is so low that they intend to close no mountain bike trails as a result.