St. Helena, CA April 26, 2019 – After a thorough investigation, CAL FIRE Law Enforcement Officers have determined that the 2018 Pawnee Fire that burned 15,185 acres in Lake County, CA was sparked by target shooting. Investigators were dispatched as part of the initial response to the Pawnee Fire and immediately began working to determine the origin and cause of the fire. The ensuing investigation uncovered evidence that target shooting sparked the fire on June 23, 2018. CAL FIRE was assisted during the course of the investigation by the Lake County Sheriff’s Department, Lake County District Attorney’s Office, Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department, and Rohnert Park Department of Public Safety.

Don’t let target shooting end with a wildfire, here are some tips you should take when target shooting:

– Place your targets on dirt or gravel, shoot in areas free of dry vegetation—and avoid shooting on hot windy days. Bullet fragments can be extremely hot and can easily start a fire.
– Use safe targets, shooting at steel targets or rocks may throw sparks into the nearby vegetation. Use paper targets or clay pigeons.
– Ammunition type matters, steel Core and solid copper ammunition have the highest potential to start fires. Lead core bullets are less likely to ignite surrounding vegetation.
– Incendiary or tracer ammunition, ammunition that “burns” can easily ignite vegetation so should not be used in flammable areas.
– keep a shovel, fire extinguisher and extra water on hand, in case a fire does start.
– Report all fires Immediately CALL 9-1-1.