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Brush fires caused by target shooting a worry in San Diego County

August 20, 2011 |  8:35 am


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 (Cal-Fire).

Two kinds of ammunition found at these locations are also puzzling. One is a Russian-made bullet and the other is used with the M4 rifle, which, by law, is restricted for sale 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, Cal-Fire said. Bills totalling 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, Cal-Fire officials said. Restricting shooting to cooler times of the day is also helpful in preventing fires, officials said.


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-- Tony Perry in San Diego

Photo: A Hungarian defense official test fires an American-made M4. Credit: Attila Kisbenedek / AFP/Getty Images