Rifle Tracer Shot Ignites Texas Wildfire

Rifle Tracer Shot Ignites Texas Wildfire

16 October 2010

published by www.firehouse.com

USA —  Six volunteer fire departments battled a brush fire that threatened a shooting range shack full of ammunition Saturday in Southeast Lubbock County.

The fire approached within 50 yards of the Rustic Range office near FM 400 and County Road 7300, according to the Slaton Fire Department.

The fire started about 2 p.m. when a customer at the facility’s 100-yard, outdoor rifle range fired a tracer incendiary shot from an SKS rifle, said Scott Harmon, an employee at the range.

The flaming bullet landed on a canyon embankment just under 200 yards from the range office and a fire quickly spread through the canyon, he said.

Incendiary rounds, which are coated in phosphorous, are usually used to show a shooter the path of their bullet when firing at night, he said. They are prohibited at the range.

By 4 p.m., the flames were moving within 50 yards of the range office and fire crews were stationed nearby with hoses and tanker trucks.

Harmon, still manning the office, said he planned to leave if asked by fire crews. His escape plan: “Run like heck.”

Though he did not want to release the amount of ammunition and gun powder in the building, the result of fire reaching the building, he said, “would be devastating.”

Capt. Dustin Brown with the Slaton Volunteer Fire Department said he couldn’t confirm Saturday what triggered the blaze.

A Slaton fire crew arrived at the scene within 15 minutes, he said.

Because winds were spreading the fire over the top of the canyon and on to nearby ranch land, other volunteer departments were called in over the next two hours.

By 3 p.m., crews from the Buffalo Springs Lake, Idalou, Ransom Canyon, Roosevelt and Slaton and West Carlisle fire departments were trying to contain the fire.

The fire over the next two hours would burn about 60 acres of brush in the canyon and along the rim but did not damage structures, Brown said.

About 50 personnel with area fire departments worked the fire and the county’s mobile emergency unit was called to the scene to coordinate the effort, he said.

Harmon said range employees believed they knew the identity of the person who fired the incendiary round. He said he didn’t know if the range planned to file charges.

Brown said the cause of the fire was still under investigation.

Employees with the range and fire crews planned to monitor areas of smoldering brush overnight Saturday.

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