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Target shooting starts rash of fires in San Diego County

The county has had 10 fires caused by target shooting, compared with only two last year, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

August 21, 2011|By Tony Perry, Los Angeles Times

Reporting from San Diego — As brush fire season continues in San Diego County, firefighters are concerned about an increase in the number of fires caused by target shooting in rural areas.

So far the county has had 10 fires caused by target shooting, compared with only two last year, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Two kinds of ammunition found at these locations are also puzzling. One is a Russian-made bullet and the other is used with M4 rifles, which by law can be sold only to the U.S. military, law enforcement and U.S. military allies.

In both cases, the bullets are either steel tipped or steel cored. When they strike rocks or come apart, sparks can ignite fires.

Culprits have been located in five of the 10 fires blamed on target shooting, the fire protection department said. Bills totaling more than $250,000 for the cost of fighting the fires have been issued.

Recreational target shooters are asked to find locations cleared of brush and to look behind their targets to see where rounds may end up, department officials said. Restricting shooting to cooler times of the day is also helpful in preventing fires, officials said.

tony.perry@latimes.com

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