Investigators have determined that the 3,450-acre Range Fire at Orem, Utah was started by target shooting at the police department’s gun range on the east side of the city. The police officer who was present is cooperating with investigators.
From the Incident Management Team, Monday, October 19, 2020:
“Fire activity on the Range Fire was minimal overnight, growth was significantly slowed by natural features. Firefighters completed a successful burn out operation last night to secure the southeast corner of the fire. Today, firefighters will be constructing hand line directly along the western perimeter of the fire. Crews will continue to mop up along the heel of the fire. Aircraft will assist ground resources by dropping water on hot spots as needed in areas where the terrain is too steep for firefighters to safely access.”
Resources assigned include 6 hand crews, 14 fire engines, and 6 helicopters for a total of 150 personnel. The estimated cost to date is $300,000.
Four new wildfires broke out in the Great Basin Geographic Area late Saturday, two each in Idaho and Nevada.
The Jasper Fire was reported at about 3 p.m. north of Sun Valley, Nevada. The Washoe County Sheriff’s Office asked for voluntary evacuations in the Sun Valley area as the fire reached Eagle Canyon Drive. The Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District reported that the fire burned about 800 acres. By Sunday morning the blaze was producing very little smoke, but at least one outbuilding was destroyed Saturday.
Washoe County Sheriff Darin Balaam said Alex Javier Arias, 23, and Jorge Arias, 22, were arrested for starting the fire by target shooting into cheat grass. They could be charged with destruction of property caused by fire through gross negligence which is a felony, Sheriff Balaam said.
— Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District (@TMFPD) July 13, 2019
Air tankers and helicopters assisted firefighters, including at least one air tanker, Tanker 88, from CAL FIRE.
A Type 3 Incident Management Team, Sierra Front with Incident Commander Stephenson, was scheduled to in-brief at 6 a.m. Sunday, according to @GreatBasinCC.
As of Saturday evening the Ridgeline Fire, 5 miles northeast of Albion, Idaho had burned about 1,000 acres and was running and spotting in juniper and brush. It was being fought by firefighters on the ground assisted by four Single Engine Air Tankers and a DC-10.
The impressive video below of a DC-10 dropping was tweeted by @BLMIdahoFire July 13, 2019 but they did not say when or where it occurred. It may have been at the Ridgeline Fire 5 miles northeast of Albion, Idaho the same day.
— Bureau of Land Management Idaho Fire (@BLMIdahoFire) July 14, 2019
The Elk Fire burned about 30 acres south of Winnemucca, Nevada.
The Canmay Fire, 8 miles north-northwest of Mountain Home, Idaho started on Bureau of Reclamation land eight miles northwest of Mountain Home, ID. Saturday evening it was running, flanking, and creeping through brush and short grass and had burned about 2,000 acres.
The weather forecast
The weather forecast for Sunday on the Jasper, Elk, and Canmay Fires are all about the same — temperature in the 90s with wind speeds over 10 mph. It will be a little cooler on the Ridgeline Fire with the temperature in the 80s, and winds less than 10 mph.
The two people charged with starting the Lake Christine Fire pleaded not guilty during a court appearance. Investigators said the fire that started July 3, 2018 was ignited by tracer rounds used at a shooting range by Allison Marcus, 22, and Richard Miller, 23. Shortly after the fire ignited Marcus and Miller were cooperative and talked with law enforcement officials.
The fire burned 12,588 acres and three homes near Basalt and El Jebel 15 air miles southeast of Glenwood Springs, Colorado.
The date of the trials for the suspects is uncertain, but they could be scheduled for May or June.
Tracer rounds are incendiary ammunition. They have a substance that burns when fired, making the trajectory of the bullet visible during daylight, but especially noticeable at night. Tracer ammunition is banned in many areas, including the area where the Lake Christine Fire started.
Miller and Marcus have been charged with fourth-degree arson.
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.
…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:
If you’re heading out shooting this spring, just keep in mind that some ammunition can spark wildfires in dry grass! Be safe!!
— BLM NIFC (@BLMNIFC) March 31, 2016
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.