Crews continued mopping up the Tannerite Fire southeast of Pinedale this week as evacuations lifted for 60-some homes threatened by the human-caused fire.
Firefighters had the 1,340-acre fire 70% contained Tuesday. Although they successfully held containment lines, a few actively burning spots still proved challenging.
“Crews are still finding heat in the aspen stands, but the control lines around the perimeter of the fire have been mopped up 100 feet in and are holding,” said Nan Stinson, a public information officer with the Bridger-Teton National Forest.
The fire ignited at 12:52 p.m. Saturday on Bureau of Land Management property, and BLM is taking the lead in the investigation. Although it still under investigation, the cause 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.
People using Tannerite targets have triggered other wildfires in the West.
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 fire in 2017 that scorched 47,000 acres and caused more than $8 million in damage after he shot a target filled with colored Tannerite powder. He was celebrating his wife’s pregnancy and announcing the gender of their child.
The U.S. Forest Service started banning the use of exploding targets on national forests, including the Bridger-Teton, in 2017.
The ban is set to expire next July 15.
The BLM issued a fire prevention order on Aug. 1 for BLM lands in Wyoming, prohibiting the use of explosives, including exploding targets, fireworks, certain firearms and other hazardous materials.
On Tuesday the BLM’s Wyoming office posted a reminder on Facebook: “Wildfires caused by improper shooting practices can cause very costly damage to public lands and private structures.”
The post included a graphic with tips on shooting on BLM land, including being aware of red flag warnings, which mean weather conditions could cause fires to spread quickly and erratically. A red flag warning was in effect when the Tannerite Fire started.
Saturday’s fire began on BLM land, moved to private land and burned onto national forest.
Sublette County Unified Fire, a primarily volunteer fire organization, was first on the scene and has been actively engaged in battling the fire since Saturday.
The volunteer firefighters leave their jobs and families to respond to emergencies such as wildfires. On Tuesday, 95 people were assigned to the fire with a Western Wyoming Type 3 Incident Management Team coordinating the effort.
Over the weekend the Sublette County Sheriff’s Office evacuated more than 60 homes, Bingham said.
As of Tuesday all evacuations had lifted.
However, the Burnt Lake Road above the Boulder Lake Dam Road and adjacent areas and trailheads remained closed. The road and trailheads are expected to open Friday morning.
Firefighting resources assigned to the fire Tuesday included four engines, three helicopters, four hand crews and a water tender.