Labor Day fire started by target shooting, burned 16,000 acres

The Labor Day fire north of Great Falls burned about 16,000 acres, according to Vaughn Fire Chief Jason McAllister.

It burned one unoccupied residence and eight outbuildings in the Golden Valley Loop area, according to a release from Cascade County Sheriff Jesse Slaughter.

According to Slaughter’s release, a deputy made contact with the 911 caller who told the deputy that he and two other males had been target shooting with steel targets and Tannerite, which is an explosive target. All three males admitted to using the Tannerite in the middle of the field. The males are cooperating with the investigation, according to Slaughter.

The fire was first reported at 1:07 p.m. Monday from a male stating a fire had started on grassland near mile marker 9 on Stuckey Road, according to Slaughter’s release.

At that point the fire had already burned 50 acres and threatened four homes on Thunder Road, according to Saughter, and deputies were dispatched to begin evacuation notifications.

At the time, the National Weather Service told dispatch that the temperature was 84 degrees with west winds gusting to 25 miles per hour.

The fire then spread in a southeast direction.

Deputies began to give emergency evacuation notices for residents of Cove Lane and Golden Valley Loop.