High Wildfire Danger Increasing Concern Over Target Shooting
In a burned out spot in Hungry Valley, 26-year old Landon Lawson points out where he and 3 friends where shooting at targets. "So we were parked right here, and I was shooting at the bush as you can see right there."
No one was more surprised than Landon over what happened next. He still can't get over how easily it happened. "Suddenly, we just see the flame burst out and start traveling. We're shoveling dirt onto it...I had one gallon of water."
The BLM's George Paiva was patrolling that day…and started smelling smoke. "And I looked around quickly and saw some smoke rising right here. The fire seemed to be getting away, from cheatgrass to sagebrush." At one point, they thought the fire would jump the hill into Sun Valley. Paiva told us, "It could have been a disaster. It really could have."
It took an hour to put it out, leaving Landon shaken over what a bullet could do. "Absolutely petrified. It was the scariest thing that happened to us."
It's not just Landon. Many people are surprised to learn that a bullet can easily start a fire in the scorching dry heat, on land that's turned into a desert. But authorities have seen it time and time again, and it's blamed for several devastating fires. The Mud Springs Fire in May. The Rifle Fire near Carson City. And last Thanksgiving, the Lockwood Fire. Dennis Terry says, "That was an individual shooting just off of the Lockwood exit. It went from private to BLM land and burned around 1,800 acres."
With the sparks from steel-jacketed bullets, they say you might as well go out and strike a match. But Landon was using lead bullets. Terry says too many think they're safe, but they're not. "That's hot lead. That energy is transferred into heat, and this cheatgrass here will ignite at 350 degrees."
Landon now drives around with water, fire extinguishers and a few shovels. He's studying to get into med school. It's a future he almost saw go up in smoke in one terrifying moment, 4 short weeks ago. But it turns out, luck was on his side and he did the right thing: not running away, telling the truth to authorities, and doing something he really didn't have to do….go on TV with us and admit he started a fire. But he wanted too. He felt he had to. As he told us, "You know, Nevada's plagued by wildfires, so you have to be aware. I love Nevada, through and through."
Fire restrictions were put in place 2 months ago, but the ammunition Landon and his friends were using was legal to use. There is a ban on shooting steel core and tracer rounds, and exploding targets on BLM land.
Saturday, May 25 2013 2:16 AM EDT2013-05-25 06:16:04 GMT
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