“Experts” defend hunter accused of starting fire when bullet struck a rock

A controversy is brewing in New Zealand about the ability of a bullet to start a fire when it strikes a rock. Below is an excerpt from an article at TVNZ.co.NZ:

Experts on fires and firearms are offering to help a Dunedin hunter fight the Otago Rural Fire Authority which is fining him over a bushfire. Tom Dodds has been accused of starting the fire, which he called in, and he’s been charged more than $60,000 by the fire authority for the cost of putting it out.

Seven Sharp reported earlier in the week that the fire investigator believes Mr Dodds’ bullet ricocheted off a rock, bounced 80 metres and hit another rock, which caused the fire 45  minutes later.

The programme reported last night it has received a lot of feedback on the case, including expert opinions from fire and firearms investigators.

One was straight to the point, calling the authority’s version of events impossible. Another, with 40 years experience, had never heard of a bullet causing a fire.

Causing a fire 45 minutes later is difficult to comprehend unless it was smoldering before it was detected.

It is a fact, however, that it is possible for a bullet striking an object to ignite a fire. We covered research on this topic in December, 2013:

…This research shows that fires can be ignited by hot fragments of the bullets due to the heat generated when the kinetic energy of the lead, copper, or steel is transformed to thermal energy by plastic deformation and fracturing from the high-strain rates during impact…

Coincidence or not, on Thursday the National Interagency Fire Center in the U.S. distributed this tweet:

In the New Zealand case, it’s probably not sparks from the rock that created a problem, but hot metal from the bullet itself that may have started the fire. It is possible that when the bullet hit the first rock, hot metal fragments were created which flew 80 meters and landed in flammable material. A second rock may not have played a significant part.

Wildfire News, March 7, 2016

Alaska April wildfire potential
April wildfire potential in Alaska, based on vegetation conditions and weather predictions.

Fire officials say to ‘expect an early start’ to Alaska wildfire season.

Shooter’s tracer rounds ignite 2-day forest fire at Missouri gun range

A proposed Utah law would enable police to shoot drones, but people have been arrested for doing so.

–A massive bushfire cut off and isolated the South Island town of Hanmer Springs, New Zealand on Tuesday (local time).

–The Arizona Wildfire Academy is taking place in Prescott this week.

Hubbardston, Massachusetts gets military surplus truck to help battle brush fires.

Hubbardston Mass mil surplus truck
Hubbardston, Mass. military surplus truck. Photo: Hubbardston Fire Department.

Two people ordered to pay $9,450 for starting wildfire with exploding target

Two people have been ordered to pay $9,450 restitution for starting the Three Mile Fire nine miles east of Florence, Montana in August, 2014 that burned about 50 acres before firefighters extinguished it at a cost estimated at $94,000. Tristan C. Olson, 30, of Missoula and Caitlin E. Hoover, 28, of Stevensville, Montana agreed to the settlement in exchange for the felony charges being dropped. They will also have to follow specific conditions for three years, including abstaining from the consumption of alcohol and drugs or entering bars or casinos.

The fire started when an exploding target was detonated in a tree surrounded by waist-high cured grass.

Mountain lion cubs
Two mountain lion cubs that were rescued in the fire. Photo by Cory Rennaker, Bitterroot National Forest Helitack, USFS.

During the initial attack on the fire, Bitterroot National Forest firefighters rescued a pair of mountain lion cubs. The kittens, just a few weeks old, were taking shelter under a burning log. Firefighters called in a helicopter bucket drop to cool the log, and the kittens, wet from the 600 gallons of water, were rescued. They were adopted by the Columbus (Ohio) Zoo and Aquarium, and on September 23 made an appearance on David Letterman’s show along with Jack Hanna.

The two people being charged were busted at least in part by writing about their adventure on Facebook that amounted to a confession.

Exploding targets consist of two ingredients that when mixed by the end user create an explosive when shot by a high-velocity projectile. They have caused many fires since they became more popular in recent years and have been banned in some areas, and caused the death of one person. In June, 2013 a man attending a bachelor-bachelorette party in Minnesota was killed after shrapnel from the device struck him in the abdomen causing his death. The Missoulian reported that two years ago a woman in Ohio had her hand nearly blown off while taking a cellphone video of a man firing at an exploding target placed in a refrigerator about 150 feet away.

Shooters cause 250-acre fire in Colorado

The U.S. Forest Service has determined that a 250-acre fire in the Pike National Forest was caused by shooting. The Snyder Creek 2 fire was first reported Sunday afternoon three miles southeast of Kenosha Pass near Park County Road 56 approximately 19 miles North of Fairplay. There was a fire in the same area in 2011.

Firefighters battled 20 to 30 mph winds on Sunday, but expect full containment by Monday evening.

Snyder Creek 2 fire
Photo of the Snyder Creek Fire, by Park County Sheriff’s Office.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Rick and Bean.

Arson charges filed against two who started fire with exploding target, orphaning mountain lion cubs

Mountain lion cubs
Photo by Cory Rennaker, Bitterroot National Forest Helitack, USFS.

Felony arson charges have been filed against two people who allegedly started the Three Mile Fire nine miles east of Florence, Montana in August, 2014. The fire burned about 50 acres before firefighters extinguished it at a cost estimated at $94,000.

During the initial attack on the fire, Bitterroot National Forest firefighters rescued a pair of mountain lion cubs. The kittens, just a few weeks old, were taking shelter under a burning log. Firefighters called in a helicopter bucket drop to cool the log, and the kittens, although wet from the 600 gallons of water, were rescued. They were adopted by the Columbus (Ohio) Zoo and Aquarium, and on September 23 made an appearance on David Letterman’s show along with Jack Hanna.

The two people being charged were busted at least in part by writing about their adventure on Facebook that amounted to a confession. They should also be charged with Felony Dumb.

Below are excerpts from an article in the Missoulian:

Tristan C. Olson, 30, of Missoula and Caitlin E. Hoover, 28, of Stevensville are scheduled to appear Feb. 17 on a series of felony charges stemming from the Aug. 29, 2014, fire on the Three Mile Wildlife Management Area.

The fire was started by an exploding target that was lodged in a tree surrounded by waist-high cured grass. The explosion ignited the tree and the fire quickly spread.

On Aug. 29, Hoover posted on Facebook: “My old pal Tristan Olson just showed up at mi casa and woke me up with a mikes hard ass slurpie and some guns and ammo…heading for the hills…ha! Yay!!!”

The last post on Olson’s Facebook page for the same day showed a photograph of a column of smoke rising above the Three Mile WMA fire with Olson’s back facing the camera. The caption read: “Dang…”

[…]

After receiving a search warrant for Hoover’s Facebook account, the affidavit said the warden found she had deleted photos of the two shooting together on the WMA.

He also found a conversation that Hoover had with someone named “Topher Devoe” on Sept. 21. In answering Devoe’s question of “what other crazy things have you done,” Hoover responded: “I just started a forest fire by shooting an assault rifle at an exploding target and burnt down 60 acres of forest. Shhh the fire is still under investigation.”

Hoover attached the photo of the Olson watching the smoke rising from the WMA.

We have written about exploding targets many times before. The dangerous devices consist of two ingredients that when mixed by the end user create an explosive when shot by a high-velocity projectile.

Exploding targets have caused many fires since they became more popular in recent years. They have been banned in some areas, and caused the death of one person. In June, 2013 a man attending a bachelor-bachelorette party in Minnesota was killed after shrapnel from the device struck him in the abdomen causing his death. The Missoulian reported that two years ago a woman in Ohio had her hand nearly blown off while taking a cellphone video of a man firing at an exploding target placed in a refrigerator about 150 feet away.

The U.S. Forest Service has banned exploding targets in the Northern Region, which includes Montana. The Three Mile Fire occurred on state protected land in a Wildlife Management Area where target shooting is not permissible. The state of Montana has not taken action to specifically prohibit the use of exploding targets, although they can become illegal when fire restrictions are in place.

Orphaned mountain lion cubs fire
The orphaned cubs after being adopted. Photo by the Columbus (Ohio) Zoo and Aquarium.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Dick.

Five men ordered to pay restitution for starting fire with exploding target

Five men who started what became a 38-acre fire near Alfalfa, Oregon in August, 2012 were ordered earlier this year to pay $17,569 to defray a portion of the costs of suppressing the Mayfield Fire. The BLM estimates they spent $88,000 to put out the blaze.

The men pleaded no contest to reckless burning, a Class A misdemeanor. They were identified as Redmond residents Peter Lee, then 31, and Clarence Christy, 32, and Bend residents Albert Sears, 27; William Loving, 25; and Jordon Odell, 25, said Deschutes County sheriff’s Sgt. Vance Lawrence.

They admitted to shooting at Tannerite, an exploding target that is known to have been the cause of numerous wildfires since the dangerous material began to be widely used two years ago. Many areas have banned exploding targets, citing wildfires, injuries, and a death caused by the use of the devices.

Below is an excerpt from an article at KTVZ. The site also has a video report published August 21, 2012 while firefighters were suppressing the fire.

…The BLM said the men admitted to purchasing 50 pounds of Tannerite and had used all but five pounds at the time of the incident.

They had shot about a dozen containers of Tannerite and were placing their targets in a western juniper tree, which ultimately exploded when the Tannerite was detonated.

The BLM said the target shooters also did not follow the recommendations of the Tannerite Company, which recommends using no more than a half-pound of the mixed composition at one time.

The Oregon State Police Explosives unit had to respond to the incident to detonate the mixed but unused portion of Tannerite, which cannot be safely transported once the two chemicals are combined…

Wildfire Today has published numerous articles about the dangers of exploding targets.

 

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Shaun.