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Public has two weeks to weigh in on ban of exploding targets

Posted at 7:19 PM, Jul 11, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-12 11:45:25-04

Monsoon may be reducing the risk of a wildfire, but Tuesday Pima County Supervisors considered another way to reduce fire danger. 

Supervisors were told it's a bad idea to go out in the desert, and fire guns at targets that explode.

Tannerite makes the best known exploding target. Company video shows, hit it with a rifle bullet and you get an explosion and a cloud of smoke a few feet across.

So what could go wrong?

Well, the Sawmill Fire. It burned about 48 thousand acres from Green Valley to Sonoita and cost about $5.6 million to fight.  A Border Patrol Agent told his bosses he was on his day off, shooting an exploding target when it started the fire.

Authorities also blame an exploding target for the 50 acre Molino Fire on Mount Lemmon.

The Pima Sheriff's Department says exploding targets are intended for people who like to do target shooting at long, long distance.  The target might be a thousand yards away so the explosion tells you if you've gotten a hit. But if that hit starts fire by the time you've run over there to try to deal with it the fire has taken off.

Investigators say the target that started the Sawmill fire used the normal amount of explosive.

But YouTube shows some people demand bigger booms.  They’ll pack 30, 40, 50 pounds of target explosive into appliances or cars, then blow them up.

Bomb Squad Sergeant Christopher Rogers says people do that in Pima County too.

He says a lot of variables can affect the force of an explosion but,  "30 Pounds in a refrigerator, you're talking a blast radius the size of a football field."

Supervisors say they banned amateur fireworks and explosive targets are more dangerous.  They'll decide on a ban in about two weeks but hear from the public first.

RESOURCE: Get in touch with your Pima County Supervisors

By mid-afternoon a poll on KGUN9's Facebook showed 80 against the ban, 55 for it.

On our Facebook page, Michael said, "Banning exploding targets..ban some types of legal fireworks, no shooting off handguns or rifles , etc. Have you seen they had something like 400 fire calls July 4th?"

Kiley said, "Not banned but those who cause damage or fires with them should be prosecuted, just as if they had caused damage or fire with their car."

You can cast your vote on our Facebook page, but please follow through within the next two weeks by reaching out to your Pima County Board of Supervisors as well.