Consequences of violating fire restrictions

Published: Jul. 7, 2022 at 12:22 AM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - The fourth of July weekend might be over, but the threat of fire remains.

The Nevada summer heat, drought conditions and gusty winds can create the perfect environment for the slightest spark to create a catastrophic situation.

That’s why the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Carson City District Office, wants to remind the community that fire restrictions are there for a reason. Assistant Fire Management Officer, Ryan Elliot, says one restriction that’s commonly violated is the use of steel-core ammunition.

“Historically we’ve gotten 11 to 14 fires a year, in that range, caused by shooting,” he said. “This year, we already had two fires caused by shooting.”

In 80 percent of those, steel-core ammunition is used.

Fines range from $250 to $1,000 and up to one year of jail time.

“Let’s say you’re shooting steel-core ammunition. That’s your base fine and then let’s add a propane tank,” said Elliot. “You’re shooting steel-core ammunition with an explosive target. These are all things that will serve to add to whatever your initial penalty was,” he explained. “Let’s say, you parked on dry grass and it didn’t cause a fire, that can very well be a warning, ‘Hey move your car’ but you parked on dry grass, while you’re shooting steel-core ammunition at a propane tank, with an explosive target. It’s going to be a more severe penalty.”

If the violation causes a fire, Elliot says you may be on the hook for all suppression costs, including aircraft.

“Depending on the size of the aircraft, anywhere from 20 to 60 thousand dollars,” said Elliot.

Equipment use is the next biggest cause of fires, starting nine or 10 fires each year in the district.

“That’s off-road vehicles or vehicles that break down on the highway. Somebody is still in the camper, the tire goes flat, they don’t realize it, that rim sparks and cause a bunch of fires,” said Elliot.

In the case someone has made an effort to put out a fire they caused, BLM will in some instances settle for a citation instead of making them liable for suppression costs.

The agency enforces restrictions through law enforcement agents and reports from the community. Elliot says depending on the violation, many people just get a warning instead of a ticket.

For a full list of restrictions, click here.

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