Fire investigators suspect a stray bullet may have caused a 8,300-acre wildfire near Mancos.
The Weber Fire was a “direct result” of people target practicing on federal land, said Butch Knowlton, director of La Plata County’s Office of Emergency Preparedness, who gave county commissioners an update on local fires on Monday.
Targets were put up, bullets passed through the targets, they ricochetted off rocks and landed in dry grass starting the fire, he said.
“That’s an indication of how dry it is,” Knowlton said. “It doesn’t take much. It takes a very small ignition source, a very small spark to start a fire.”
A spokeswoman who answered an information line for the Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office said she had no information about the cause of the fire or whether deputies were searching for someone who may have started it.
The cause of the State Line Fire remained under investigation, Knowlton said.
The State Line Fire is the only active fire in La Plata County.
But officials are keeping a close eye on the Weber Fire in case it moves into La Plata County or damages communication sites that serve as a backbone for radio, phone and internet services in the region.
Keeping the fire south of U.S. Highway 160 was a top concern for fire managers. It is a key transportation corridor, and if the fire jumps the road it would have new fuel sources and more homes in its path, Knowlton said.
The fire has come within a half mile of the highway near Mancos Hill, but the highway as of Monday evening has remained open.
The fire has advanced north, and fire officials were concerned it could produce enough thick smoke to obstruct visibility.