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Alpine to consider closing off foothill access to prevent fires

(KSL TV)


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ALPINE — Target shooters sparked a 400-acre blaze with a bullet over the weekend in Alpine, costing $450,000 in firefighting costs.

Now some residents say the town missed the mark by allowing public access to the foothills in hot, dry conditions.

"It doesn't make sense that you could go target shooting in these areas where there are tinder-dry conditions," said Alpine resident Midge Rhodes. "It's sad to watch so much destruction, when it's all preventable," she said.

Town officials are listening.

Mayor Sheldon Wimmer said he wants to do more to prevent wildfires caused by target shooting in the foothills.

"We have chosen to look at some kind of restrictions of vehicles going into that area," Wimmer said.

The City Council is set to hold an emergency meeting at Alpine City Hall at 6 p.m. Tuesday to vote on the proposal that would block access at Lambert Park to U.S. Forest Service land, where authorities said the Saturday fire began.

Wimmer says shooting on the city side of the forest is regulated, but Alpine has no jurisdiction over the neighboring Forest Service acreage.

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On Sunday, roughly 120 people were evacuated as the blaze threatened 25 homes. It began with a bullet from a .50-caliber rifle, authorities said.

"People really need to be safe this season," Wimmer said. "It's looking like it's going to be an active one."

The fire Monday spanned about 400 acres and was 60 percent contained Monday, according to a prepared statement form the Utah Department of Natural Resources. No buildings were threatened.

The DNR earlier reported the fire had moved up the mountain away from homes.

Contributing: Annie Knox

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