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Authorities say 5 East Idaho wildfires started by exploding targets

July 24, 2018

The Bureau of Land Management said Monday that five recent wildfires in Eastern Idaho were ignited by shooters illegally using exploding targets.

According to a news release from the federal agency, BLM officials have issued misdemeanors to those who are responsible for the blazes and will pursue recovery of fire suppression costs. Using exploding targets on BLM land is against the law.

According to BLM, the illegal use of exploding targets has burned 1,194 acres in East Idaho this month alone. Three of the five fires burned near Menan Butte, which is north of Idaho Falls and west of Rexburg.

“Firefighters have been able to suppress them quickly, but may not be so fortunate in the future,” said BLM Upper Snake Field Manager Jeremy Casterson in a news release. “These fires affect ranchers, hunters and other public land users.”

The most recent of these five fires, the Badger Point Fire, was ignited on Sunday and was 100 percent contained by 8:15 a.m. Monday. The blaze burned approximately 137 acres nine miles west of Rexburg.

According to the Bureau of Land Management, more than 20 engines from multiple departments and a helicopter were brought in to extinguish the blaze.

Further south in the Oneida County area, a lightning storm caused numerous wildfires on Saturday evening.

The largest of these fires, the Stone 2 Fire, burned 150 acres but was contained by 11 p.m. Saturday. Five other fires were ignited in the area, but they were two acres or less in size and were also quickly extinguished.

A small fire called the Fransen Fire ignited on Monday approximately three miles northwest of Lava Hot Springs. As of 5 p.m. Monday, BLM officials said crews were making good progress on the three-quarter-acre blaze, with multiple fire engines, a helicopter and two retardant planes utilized to battle the fire. In total, four retardant drops were made on the blaze.

No structures were damaged by either the Badger Point Fire, the Fransen Fire or the recent blazes in the Oneida County area. However, a fire just off Garden Road outside of American Falls burned 45 to 50 acres and destroyed a small shed.

The fire in Power County started at around noon on Monday and was mostly extinguished by 2:30 p.m. Fire crews with BLM, the Rockland Fire Department, the Power County Highway District and the American Falls Rural Fire Department responded to the blaze.

The cause of this fire is under investigation.

A large fire that grew to 2,412 acres in size approximately 25 miles southeast of the Interstate 84/Interstate 86 interchange was expected to be 100 percent contained on Monday evening.

Called the North Hegler Fire, the blaze was ignited last Tuesday by lightning between Power and Cassia counties and could be seen 12 miles southwest of Rockland. The fire produced smoke that could be seen from miles away.

Though the blaze was threatening structures, there were no reports of any structures being damaged by the fire.

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