Body discovered in area of Northern California wildfire

Thu Jul 17, 2014 7:27pm EDT

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(Reuters) - A body has been discovered in an area where a wildfire allegedly started by a marijuana grower has charred 10,700 acres (4,330 hectares) in Northern California, officials said on Thursday.

The so-called Bully Fire broke out last Friday in Shasta County near the town of Redding and has destroyed 18 structures, authorities said on a California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal-Fire) website.

The body was discovered on Wednesday near a home and the person appears to have died soon after the blaze broke out, Cal-Fire said in a statement.

Authorities did not release the victim's gender or age and said the cause of death is under investigation.

The fire's location in a remote canyon, along with high winds and dry conditions due to ongoing drought, made the Bully Fire difficult to fight, Cal-Fire officials said earlier in the week.

Shortly after the fire broke out on Friday, officials arrested Freddie Alexander Smoke III, 37, for starting the blaze while tending to an illegal marijuana growing operation, Cal-Fire said in a news release.

Smoke was in the area delivering soil amendments to enrich the land where the pot was growing when exhaust from the large rental truck he was driving sparked the blaze, Cal-Fire said.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles)

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