Tracers ignite fire at shooting range

Tracers ignite fire at shooting range

19 October 2010

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USA —  A wildfire that burned 190 acres on Saturday was ignited by a bullet shot at the rifle range and was stopped just before reaching heavy timber.

The fire, which was contained around 8:30 p.m., started around 12:45 p.m. and was reportedly sparked from a tracer round shot at the Colorado Division of Wildlife shooting range.

Flames crested the hill to the north, almost reaching County Road 20 on top of Parshall Divide.

Firefighters achieved a “back-burn operation to keep it out of the timber,” according to Fire Chief Brad White of the Hot Sulphur Springs/Parshall Fire Protection District, which was on scene along with Kremmling and Granby firefighters and a U.S. Forest Service crew that was pulled from patrol at the Church Park Fire.

Although the fire traveled by way of grass and sage and through some trees, it never reached thick forest, according to White.

The shooting range was shut down on Sunday as firefighters continued to observe the area.

The range is considered a “hot spot” for potential fires in early and late season, such as a memorable and much larger fire that burned about a decade ago, White said. The fire department gets called to the range “about every other year,” he said.

For this reason, the fire district is working with the Colorado Division of Wildlife to “help limit that.”

“Nobody wants to shut (the fire range) down, for sure,” White said.

Division of Wildlife spokesperson Randy Hampton maintains that “proper use” of the firing range does not cause fires.

In response to Saturday’s fire, the Division of Wildlife will be posting the range to “let people know those kinds of rounds (tracers) are not allowed,” Hampton said.

Tracer ammunition burns brightly during flight so that a shooter may see it with the naked eye and follow its trajectories.

The DOW did not issue a citation to the individual who shot the tracer round on Saturday, Hampton said.

Hampton commended the “hard working and dedicated volunteers” who put out the fire in a timely manner, adding: “We’re working with Hot Sulphur Springs Fire to make sure we don’t have an ongoing problem.”

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