(CN) – A claw hammer started the largest wildfire in modern California history, according to a report issued by Cal Fire on Thursday.
The Ranch Fire, which joined with other fires to scorch about 459,000 acres as the Mendocino Complex Fire, began as a spark thrown when a property owner in Porter Valley outside of Mendocino struck a metal stake with a hammer. The property owner was attempting to install a shade barrier when the spark combined with exceedingly dry conditions and heavy winds to become a wildfire.
Cal Fire’s deputy director Michael Moeller told the Fresno Bee the incident was a “complete accident.” The property owner will not be charged.
The Ranch Fire alone burned about 410,000 acres, qualifying it the largest fire in state history. A firefighter from Utah was killed while fighting the blaze and four others were injured.
The blaze also destroyed 280 buildings and caused about $250 million in damage.