Man charged with starting massive California blaze

In this undated photo, the Rim fire continues to burn through the Stanislaus National Forest near Yosemite National Park. (Stanislaus National Forest)
Rim fire spreads near Yosemite (Stanislaus National Forest)
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Updated: 8/07 1:36 pm

GROVELAND, Calif. (AP) — A California man has been charged with starting one of the state's largest wildfires, which charred a huge swath of land in Yosemite National Park and the Stanislaus National Forest last year.

Federal prosecutors say a grand jury returned a four-count indictment Thursday against 32-year-old Keith Matthew Emerald alleging he started a fire on Aug. 17, 2013, that spread beyond his control and turned into the massive Rim Fire.

Prosecutors say temporary fire restrictions in place at the time prohibited fires.

Authorities have previously said the fire was started by an illegal fire set by a hunter.

The fire raged for two months across 400 square miles of land. It ranks as California's third-largest wildfire and the largest in the Sierra Nevada's recorded history.

©2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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