So a coworker just bumped me this little incident through IM.
He drove upriver, investigated and with the help of Asotin County deputies and area landowners found the fire was started by someone shooting at an exploding target. The alleged fire-starter apparently fled the scene in such haste that he/she left behind an AK-47.
First up, we all know the identification abilities of both the press and law enforcement are how shall we say, lacking. So I have a feeling it probably was not an AK-47.
Next up is why I’m writing this post. If you’re going to play around with reactive targets, please be aware, be careful, and do it right. Doing stupid stuff can cause the powers that be to outlaw things in an effort to stop stupidity. They seem to think that laws will actually stop stupidity while those of us with functional brains know it just stops the smart and law abiding from enjoying freedom while making it a little more difficult for Darwin to do his job.
I’m not sure exactly why this fire started, there’s a couple different options. First is that the bullet itself struck something and caused a spark resulting in a fire. Not impossible, but not very likely unless they were shooting steel core surplus ammo. I find this a possibility given the expeditious fleeing.
Laughably is the idea that the explosion itself set something on fire. Combustion, and the heat that accompanies it, dissipates in milliseconds at most. For the fireballs we create at Boomershoot we actually have to have road flares to cause the fuel to ignite because there is no heat remaining as the vapor cloud expands. We have added things such as magnesium and other materials and this does help. Assuming this was Tannerite, it is possible that some of the elements were still combusting when it hit the ground, I just am a bit skeptical.
Lastly they were attempting to be Ry and recreate the following.
It is well known that creating a fireball like that can land you in an interesting position. The heat radiated after combustion begins can easily cause surrounding plant life to ignite. We do it prior to the fire season beginning as well for numerous reasons. Trying to put out a fire as it rages across the field wouldn’t exactly be fun. Think of the exploding toilet in 2008.
There is a second reason and that is Boomerite that is spread on the ground can actually cause a fire. The KClO3 breaks down exothermically under UV and can ignite surrounding material.
But seriously, if you’re going to go out into the woods and create a fireball. Be ready for some stuff to be lit on fire. It is going to happen and you better be ready to fight it. So if you’re going to do it please do the following:
- Have fire extinguishers at the ready
- Bring numerous friends to help extinguish the fire
- Soak the surrounding area with water if it’s been dry over the previous couple days
- Be ready with dirt buckets too
- Have a plan to deal with fire
Seriously, it only takes one person to screw it up for the rest of us. Please, don’t be that guy.
Barron is the owner, editor, and principal author at The Minuteman, a competitive shooter, and staff member for Boomershoot. Even in his free time he’s merging his love and knowledge of computers and technology with his love of firearms.
He has a BS in electrical engineering from Washington State University. Immediately after college he went into work on embedded software and hardware for use in critical infrastructure. This included cryptographic communications equipment as well as command and control devices that were using that communications equipment. Since then he’s worked on just about everything ranging from toys, phones, other critical infrastructure, and even desktop applications. Doing everything from hardware system design, to software architecture, to actually writing software that makes your athletic band do its thing.