Although it’s still under investigation, the cause of a 1,300-acre wildfire that started Saturday and led to more than 60 homes being evacuated south of Pinedale is no secret.
Firefighters named the Tannerite Fire after the brand name for the explosive ingredient.
“They named it after the cause, so that’s unusual,” said Sgt. Travis Bingham, a public information officer for the Sublette County Sheriff’s Office.
This is not the first fire caused by people using Tannerite.
Montana investigators found that someone shooting exploding targets filled with Tannerite started a July 26 fire that consumed 5,000 acres near Helena, Montana, according to the Helena Independent Record. In Arizona, a man started a 2017 fire that scorched 47,000 acres and caused more than $8 million in damage after he shot a target filled with colored Tannerite powder to celebrate his wife’s pregnancy and announce the gender of their child.
Saturday’s fire started on Bureau of Land Management property, and BLM is taking the lead in the investigation, Bingham said.
When the fire ignited at 12:52 p.m. Saturday, the Pinedale area was under a red flag warning, in effect since Friday, which means weather conditions are ripe for fires to spread quickly and erratically.
On Sunday, the National Weather Service in Riverton issued a similar red flag warning from noon to 9 p.m. Monday for much of Teton County, including Grand Teton National Park and the northern Bridger-Teton National Forest. A forecast for low humidity, hot temperatures and gusty winds could allow fires to spread more quickly.
“Please make sure your campfire is completely out before leaving the campground,” the warning states. “Avoid driving or parking in high, dead grass as a spark can ignite dry vegetation.”
As of press time Sunday, firefighters had achieved 20% containment and protected homes in the path of the Tannerite Fire, which forced evacuations for Boulder Lake Estates, Boulder Lake Campground, Burnt and Meadow Lakes and associated trailheads. Road closures were also in place for Boulder Lake and Burnt Lake roads.
“We counted about 63 homes evacuated or affected,” Bingham said Sunday. “We haven’t lost anything yet.”
Resources fighting the fire have included seven engines, a water tender, four helicopters, a hand crew, eight smokejumpers, a helitack crew and additional airplanes dropping fire retardant.