Exploding target ignites small forest fire near Fort McMurray

Alberta Forestry says a recent wildfire near Fort McMurray was started by an exploding target, and officers have charged an individual under new legislation.

Province issued a $287 ticket under the Forest and Prairie Protection Regulation

An Alberta Wildfire photo shows the wildfire that resulted from the exploding target. (Alberta Wildfire)

A shooter practising with an exploding target touched off a small wildfire last month near Fort McMurray, Alberta Forestry says.

The department said officers charged "an individual" under forest fire prevention legislation.

Recreational shooters sometimes use targets filled with an explosive similar to that used in the YouTube video below. 

Alberta Forestry said it responded to a wildfire on May 28 in a public area frequented by recreational users off Highway 63. 

On its website, the department said crews quickly extinguished the fire, which started about 35 kilometres south of Fort McMurray.

The department said the "individual" was issued a $287 ticket under the Forest and Prairie Protection Regulation for "shooting, igniting, detonating an exploding target ... without the permission of a forest officer."

Alberta Wildfire said the case is before the courts and officials could not comment further.

Lynn Daina, a wildfire information officer, said 10 of the 23 forest fires in the Fort McMurray area this season were started by people.

"It's one thing more on the list of things that are human caused starts for wildfires," Daina said of the exploding target. "So if we could reduce the odds of human caused wildfires, we are looking at a 50-per-cent reduction in wildfire starts."

The province recently strengthened the Forest and Prairie Protection Act. Penalties under the act can now include fines of up to $100,000 and jail sentences of up to two years.