MENAN, Idaho – Investigators determined the July 15th North Butte Fire was caused by shooters illegally using exploding targets. The North Butte Fire burned 827 acres and will be contained today at 8 p.m.
“This is very disappointing as this is the second fire caused by exploding targets near Menan Butte this summer,” said Jeremy Casterson, Upper Snake Field Manager. “Exploding targets are prohibited by the BLM because they can start wildfires and have caused multiple wildfires across Idaho.”
Exploding targets are a binary explosive. A binary explosive consists of two components that are mixed together to cause a reaction. An exploding target usually consists of ammonium nitrate, the fuel, and aluminum powder, the catalyst. To set off an explosion, the mixture needs energy, which comes from the kinetic energy of a fast-moving bullet. When a bullet hits the mixture a loud bang and puff of smoke occur and heat is given off. The heat produced by the reaction can then spark a wildfire.
Shoot responsibly! Using exploding targets on BLM lands is a misdemeanor and violators could be liable for costs associated with fire suppression, rehabilitation and property damage.
Take these shooting precautions:
- Check weather conditions. Hot + Dry + Wind = Quick Spreading Wildfires
- Choose a shooting area that is clear of dry grass/vegetation and rocks.
- Always bring water, a fire extinguisher, and a shovel.
- Discharging a firearm using incendiary, steel core or tracer ammunition is prohibited on BLM lands from May 10 to October 20.
- Burning, igniting or causing to burn explosive material, including exploding targets is prohibited on BLM lands from May 10 to October 20.
A 1,000-acre wildfire is burning in East Idaho.
The blaze was first reported around 4:45 p.m. Sunday in the Menan Butte area northeast of Roberts and south of Highway 33 — about 24 miles north of Idaho Falls.
The Bureau of Land Management reported Sunday night that the blaze is 50 percent contained and is expected to be fully contained by Monday night. The fire is burning in grass and brush on flat terrain and has not resulted in any injuries, evacuations or damage to structures, the BLM said.
As of Sunday night authorities said the fire was not threatening any structures.
The blaze did result in the temporary closure of Highway 33 but by Sunday night the road had reopened.
The BLM said the cause of the wildfire remains under investigation.
Firefighters equipped with 20 firefighting vehicles and assisted by firefighting aircraft got the upper hand on the fire and by Sunday night the BLM described the fire’s behavior as “creeping and smoldering.”
Firefighters were helped by the fact the wildfire ran into terrain that had already been burned by a wildfire last year, slowing the progress of the flames.
Firefighters from the BLM, Forest Service, Central Fire District, and the Hamer and Roberts volunteer fire departments are battling the fire.