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Gun club fire quickly snuffed

Ignition pinpointed to restricted area on Ashland club’s range

A grass fire reported at Ashland Gun Club Saturday afternoon was quickly put out, but its cause remains under investigation.

Gun club members reported a flare started the fire at 1:46 p.m., at 555 Emigrant Creek Road, said Jackson County Fire District No. 5 Battalion Chief Aaron Bustard. Members said no water was available to douse the fire, which was burning uphill toward the open range.

“It happened on a part of the range where people don’t go,” said Dave Dotterrer, gun club president. Dotterrer said he was on a camping trip and not on site at the time but was in contact with the club’s range safety officer.

Dotterrer said he was told the fire began on the back of a berm — the mound of dirt behind the targets designed to stop bullets. Dotterrer said no one is allowed behind the berms.

Fire District 5 responded with two engines, one brush truck, two water tenders and a battalion chief. Ashland Fire and Rescue responded with one unit, and Oregon Department of Forestry sent four units and one command staff.

The first units arrived within seven minutes and reported a quarter-acre fire. Shortly after firefighters began hand-lining and working to knock down the fire, a call came in for a vehicle fire on Interstate 5 southbound. District 5 sent one engine and a water tender to respond to what turned out to be only smoke from an overheated vehicle.

The grass fire was reported 100% lined and 90% mopped up at 2:26 p.m. No structures were under threat. Bustard said they were unable to find a flare, but ODF will continue investigating the cause.

Bustard said he hopes fires like this will keep the public from being complacent.

“It’s still really dry out here,” Bustard said.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Morgan Rothborne at mrothborne@rosebudmedia.com or 541-776-4487. Follow her on Twitter @MRothborne.