Five Brookings-Harbor area residents shooting guns at exploding targets during the height of fire season last September have been cited for causing a brush fire on Carpenterville Road, according to Coos Forest Protective Association (CFPA).
The September 18 fire, northeast of Brookings, scorched 6.6 acres of 4-year-old reproduction timber.
The people cited were Jonathon D. Wilber, 22, of Brookings; Patrick J. Flanery, 22, of Harbor; Luke H. Rigel 23, of Harbor; Jonathon B. White, 25, of Harbor; and Ray E. Tuttle, 27, of Brookings. They received fines of up to $110.
"We don't believe that these individuals set out to cause the fire but they ultimately did," said CFPA fire investigator Derwin Boggs."They failed to properly report the fire or make a bona fide effort to suppress the fire. They were behind a locked gate on private land, shooting exploding targets. Closures during fire season prohibit the use of exploding targets."
According to CFPA spokesman John Flannigan, exploding targets are sold to make target shooting more exciting or long range shooting more visible.
"The target that caused the fire was apparently bought at a shop in Brookings," Flannigan said. "Most targets are inert chemicals that, when mixed and impacted by a bullet, explode. A 243 caliber rifle was used to shoot the target that started this fire. There has been a rash of shooting-related fires around the country. Most are attributed to exploding targets and cheap steel core bullets. The fire was on private industrial timberland."
The CFPA, which investigates all fires to determine the cause and establish responsible parties, said the five individual are also liable for the cost of the fire. The law requires the state recover suppression costs on all human-caused fires deemed negligent.
The cost of battling the Carpenterville Road fire and related cleanup is estimated to be more than $20,000, Flannigan said.
A helicopter was used to drop water on the flames and South Coast Lumber sent a bulldozer used to create a fire break and halt the fire's advance.
The private landowner can also seek reparations for damage caused by the fire, Flannigan said.
The fire was reported at as a "boat on fire in the middle of a field" and firefighters were dispatched. The fire spread uphill and down from the boat location but was halted in its progress by firefighters.
The fire occurred on reforested timberland, and had the potential to burn a large area of forest land and homes in the area, Flannigan said.
The fire danger was high at the time and the fire occurred simultaneously with another fire being managed by the CFPA, resulting in limited resources to suppress the fire.