UTAH COUNTY – Fire investigators say target shooting at a police gun range is the cause the massive Range Fire, which has already blackened more than 3,400 acres.
Roughly 180 fire personnel have been called to help knock back the Range Fire, which was 10 percent contained by Monday afternoon. Police have restricted traffic on SR92 and SR 189 and the Sundance area is under a pre-evacuation order.
Investigators determined that the #RangeFire originated at the Orem Police Gun Range & was caused by target shooting. The Orem Police Officer present when the fire started is cooperating with officials. The investigation is on-going; more info will be shared when it’s available.
— Utah Fire Info (@UtahWildfire) October 19, 2020
Investigators have determined the fire started near the Orem Police Gun Range, sparked by target shooting, and the officer who was present when it started is cooperating with the investigation. Orem Fire Battalion Chief Shaun First say that range has been used by officers for a very long time.
First says, “The gun range has been in operation since the 80’s, so it has been a part of the police department training for a long time.”
While the Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands conducts its own investigation into the fire, the city of Orem will be doing the same. First says the city will also conduct a safety audit on the range to see what led to the fire.
While this particular range has been approved for officer training, First says many target shooters make the mistake of going to unapproved areas to fire their weapons.
“Using an approved range does limit the calls,” First says. “I would suggest they look at any postings of the county’s or city’s ordinances. Make sure you’re doing it in an approved range.”
First says the conditions on the mountains are too dry and too dangerous to fire weapons in unapproved places. He also says they’re seeing a lot more human-caused fires than normal.
“We’re seeing lighter fuels with lower fuel moisture. You have a recipe for an easier ignition when you see that,” according to First.
Orem City officials issued a statement saying, “We express our sincerest gratitude to the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands, the Utah Department of Natural Resources, and all other agencies who are currently assisting in the effort to put out the fire. The City recognizes the strain this unfortunate event has placed on the community and appreciates the community’s ongoing support.”
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