Deputies: Watermelon Hill fire started by recreational shooters

Deputies: Watermelon Hill fire started by recreational shooters

Lincoln County Sheriff’s deputies are looking for a group of men who accidentally started the Watermelon Hill fire while target shooting at a location between Fishtrap Lake and Sprague Saturday afternoon.

For a long time the aluminum can has served as a favorite target for people doing a little plinking; they’re cheap and easy to carry out when your done shooting. More recently exploding targets have started showing up on store shelves and have now started at least two fires in the Fishtrap area.

It’s legal to buy exploding targets because until the active ingredients are mixed together products like “Sure Shot” are inert. Even then it takes a high powered rifle to set the charge off.

Unfortunately someone was using tannerite at a makeshift range Saturday and started the Watermelon Hill fire, which threatened Lori Brown’s son’s home.

“We got here as quickly as we could. when we got here there were vehicles that were leaving the area people leaving the area and he stopped a vehicle and the man did admit to being there and starting the fire,” Brown said.

Lincoln County Sheriff’s deputies searched the fire’s point of origin and found shell casings and traces of the explosive tannerite. They are now looking for a yellow truck with a black stripe that the suspect was driving.

In the meantime, residents are angry about people being so careless with fire so close to their crops.

“It’s our income; people don’t understand, they come out here on days like today when the wind is 25-30 miles an hour, shooting explosive devices and they think since the [Bureau of Land Management] owns this property, it’s legal, and it is legal but you run the risk of wiping out our way of life,” Brown said.

BLM closes its land to the use of exploding targets from the middle of May to the middle of October for what are now very obvious reasons. The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office hopes this costly fire will reinforce that message with recreational shooters.