Fire officials say penalties are possible after sparks from a target shooting ricochet ignited a 50-acre wildfire near Snowbasin Ski Resort that threatened several mountain homes.
As of Monday morning, evacuations and some road closures had been lifted and firefighters continued to work on the fire, which started Saturday in the area of the Old Snowbasin Road and the Art Nord trailhead.
The blaze was 55% contained by Monday morning, said Jennifer Hansen, a Forest Service spokesperson. The top of Old Snowbasin Road and access to trails beyond will remain closed while fire crews are on the fire.
Smoke from the blaze added to the already poor Weber County air quality, which was projected to reach the red "unhealthy" zone Monday. The Utah Division of Air Quality said people with heart or respiratory conditions should reduce exertion and outdoor activity.
A target shooter called 911 after seeing a ricochet spark the fire, according to news releases from agencies including the Weber Fire District, Weber County Sheriff's Office and the U.S. Forest Service. Crews built a protective ring around six homes imperiled by the fire. The Weber Fire District said air tankers dumped suppressants on the fire to make it possible for ground crews to attack the fire.
By Saturday night, evacuations were lifted and State Road 39 was reopened.
Target shooting in Utah is not allowed within 600 feet of buildings, which is what happened in this case, the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest said in a news release Sunday. Those who start a wildfire by target shooting, dragging chains or abandoning campfires can be held responsible for the firefighting costs.
Hansen said the case has been turned over to Forest Service investigators. Any recovery of firefighting costs would come as a restitution order stemming from a potential civil or criminal case related to the fire.
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