BOISE – The federal government said Thursday it is collecting $168,500 to cover fire suppression costs after an Illinois man ignited a 440-acre blaze in central Idaho in 2012 while shooting at an exploding target.
The U.S. attorney’s office announced the agreement after Jeffrey Kerner was target shooting on July 18, 2012, on private land near Salmon in Lemhi County. As temperatures hit 95 degrees, prosecutors say, Kerner’s target blew apart and ignited the blaze that later spread to adjacent federal land.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Amy Howe in Boise said the settlement was reached after negotiations with an insurance adjustment company representing Kerner.
Though the fire was relatively small at less than a square mile and was contained within 48 hours, costs quickly escalated as federal firefighters arrived in force to keep the flames from consuming at least two nearby homes.
Howe said the incident – during high summer, when temperatures were climbing – underscores the danger of shooting at exploding targets that produce a large cloud of smoke when struck by a bullet. Federal and state agencies across the West have enacted a patchwork of regulations designed to limit or ban exploding targets on public land, though there’s little uniformity.
The money will be paid to the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service.