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Man allegedly at marijuana site accused of starting California wildfire that forced evacuation

REDDING, Calif. — A 27-year-old man who was allegedly at an illegal marijuana plot is suspected of starting a wildfire that has burned more than 4 1/2 square miles of forested land in northern California.

Freddie Alexander Smoke III was arrested Saturday and accused of recklessly causing a fire and with marijuana cultivation, both felonies, CalFire said Saturday.

The agency said he was delivering material to the pot site in Shasta County when the exhaust from his truck ignited dry grass.

The so-called Bully fire has since grown to nearly 3,000 acres, officials said. More than 1,000 personnel are involved in fighting the blaze, which was just 10 percent contained Saturday night.

The wildfire had prompted evacuations and road closures, but CalFire said all residents have been allowed to return home and all roads have been open to them.

Still, the fire is threatening 15 homes and about 50 other structures.

In Central California, a wildfire has burned nearly two square miles (1,200 acres) of a remote wilderness area of the Sequoia National Forest and was just 5 percent contained as of Saturday night.

Officials said more than 600 personnel are involved in fighting the Nicolls fire, which broke out Friday afternoon south of Sequoia National Park.

No homes were evacuated or in danger.

The forest where the fire started is south of and separate from the Sequoia National Park east of Fresno, which is famous for its giant Sequoia trees.

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