While dozens of wildfires were burning out of control in north central Washington last summer, two people decided to do some target shooting in the dry, grassy hills above Alta Lake. They set up an exploding target and fired at it, causing a loud boom and a huge smoke-like cloud.
The outing resulted in the Goat Fire, which would burn 73,378 acres, the Wenatchee World reported.
U.S. Forest Service officials have not said whether their investigators believe the fire was caused by the target or a bullet striking something else.
There’s plenty of disagreement about whether targets that explode can start fires. Some think they’re dangerous and should be banned; others say they’re no danger.
But as exploding targets become more popular they are more often linked to wildfires. The devices have been blamed for starting at least two dozen fires across the West last summer, the newspaper reported.
Fire officials last summer said that two other smaller fires in north central Washington, a 120-acre blaze near Entiat and a quarter-acre fire near Cashmere, were started by people shooting at exploding targets.