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North Hills fire caused by exploding target shooting
North Hills fire caused by exploding target shooting

North Hills fire caused by exploding target shooting


The 5,000-acre North Hills fire near Helena was caused by someone shooting exploding targets, Lewis and Clark County Sheriff Leo Dutton said. 

Investigators found that someone was shooting targets filled with Tannerite when the fire started July 26, Dutton said. The individual tried and failed to put out the fire before calling emergency services, he said. 

"They turned themselves in immediately and didn't try to hide it," Dutton said.

County and federal officials have declined to release the suspect's name. 

Dutton said no state criminal charges will be pursued, but the state is considering civil action. 

"It's terrible, but it's accidental," Dutton said.

However, the Bureau of Land Management has completed its investigation and is considering issuing citations.

Scott Haight, BLM field manager for the area, said a variety of potential citations could cost the suspect hundreds of dollars. But the suspect could face a much higher price if found liable for the costs of the fire and damage to federal property.

Haight emphasized that exploding targets are illegal on federal lands and said they are a "particularly bad idea now," given the dry conditions. 


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Crime and Health Reporter

Crime and health reporter for the Helena Independent Record.

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