Fire Investigators Train in Douglas County

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MINDEN -- Fire investigators walked and kneeled amid burnt sagebrush near the Minden-Tahoe Airport Friday. The re-certification training brought together investigators from several local agencies. They investigated two intentionally set fires for training purposes.

"It's left as trash," fire investigator Terry Taylor said, holding a paper plate with holes in it. It's an indication of the cause of one of the fires -- target shooting. "About one out of four fires that occur on days like (Friday) in this region can be attributed to target shooting," Taylor said.

Crews learned how to document the scenes. They stuck small flags in the ground, in some instances, to indicate evidence. Investigators determined the second fire was caused by fireworks.

Firefighters said some fires are more difficult to investigate than others, such as fires without witnesses and those where suppression efforts disturb evidence.

"Sometimes we just have a huge area to start with... sometimes we have to work it down and try to get it to a smaller area that we can actually get down on our hands and knees and look at," Greg Liddicoat, a wildland fire specialist, said.

"If it's caused by a person or corporation's negligent act then state, local and federal government can recover some of those costs through litigation," Taylor said.

The exercise took place as temperatures climbed to record highs, increasing the risk of a significant fire.