Local wildfires started by target shooting, BLM officials say

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The Cinder Fire. | Courtesy Bureau of Land Management

IDAHO FALLS — Three recent wildfires were caused by prohibited target shooting in eastern Idaho, BLM officials announced Tuesday.

The Liberty Fire near Blackfoot burned 181 acres, the Lava Rock Fire near Idaho Falls burned 8 acres and the Cinder Fire near Rexburg burned 41 acres, all during the Fourth of July week. All of the blazes were caused by humans not taking proper precautions, according to BLM spokeswoman Kelsey Griffee.

The potential for target shooting to start wildfires is why the BLM Fire Prevention Order prohibits discharging incendiary, steel core, tracer ammunition and exploding targets on BLM lands from May 10 to Oct. 20. During this period it is illegal to use exploding targets or prohibited ammunition on BLM Land.

“When you have hot, windy conditions you only need a small spark to ignite dry grass,” Fire Management Officer Joel Gosswiller said in a news release. “Shooting certain kinds of ammunition and exploding targets create an easy ignition source.”

Violators could be charged with a misdemeanor and be liable for costs associated with fire suppression, rehabilitation and property damage.

“These are the top human causes of wildfire in our area,” Griffee said.

She said that last year, 60 percent of all fires in eastern Idaho were human-caused.

Additionally, firefighters ask that people be aware of other activities occurring around them while they are shooting on public lands. During the Cinder Fire, people continued to shoot in and around the fire perimeter while firefighters were suppressing the fire near Idaho Highway 33.

“Please be aware of first responders and recreating public when picking a place to target shoot,” Griffee said. “It’s important for public safety.”

BLM recommends the following tips if you do decide to go shooting on BLM lands:

  • Check weather conditions. Hot + Dry + Wind = Quick Spreading Wildfires
  • Choose a shooting area that is clear of dry grass/vegetation and rocks.
  • Have a proper backstop.
  • Always bring water, a fire extinguisher and a shovel.
  • Discharging a firearm using incendiary, steel core or tracer ammunition is prohibited on BLM lands from May 10 to Oct. 20.
  • Burning, igniting or causing to burn explosive material, including exploding targets, is prohibited on BLM lands from May to Oct. 20.
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