Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version Share this

Six wildfires earlier this summer in East County were caused by target shooting

By Miriam Raftery

October 1, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) – Cal Fire investigators have pinpointed the origin of the Shockey Fire to an area where illegal target shooting was taking place on state land near Shockey Truck Trail, Mike Mohler of Cal Fire informed ECM today.

Investigators are not yet certain that shooting caused the fire, but if so, the shooter could be held liable for damages including loss of 11 homes and death of an elderly resident, Mohler confirmed in an exclusive interview with ECM. Cal-Fire urges anyone with information on the Shockey Fire to call the Arson Hotline at 800-468-4408.

“There are areas that legal, sanctioned shooting clubs run on state land,” Mohler told ECM. He added that the Shockey fire started on an area where shooting is illegal.  “As far as just going out into the brush and shooting, that’s illegal on state lands.”

Target shooting caused six brush fires in six weeks during June and July on federal land run by the Bureau of Land Management, all in areas south of Highway 94 in the Otay Wilderness area, as ECM previously reported:

Cal-Fire, joined by residents of Dulzura, Potrero and other areas bordering the Otay Wilderness area had urged the BLM to ban shooting on its properties within San Diego County for the duration of this year’s severe fire season. 

“We know that other federal agencies, like the U.S. Forest Service, have implemented temporpary closure to shooting during this high wildfire danger time,” Cal Fire Battalion Chief John Kremensky told ECM in July. Kremensky sent a letter July 18 to the BLM urging a temporary ban on shooting in San Diego County for the duration of the 2012 fire season.    The BLM responded that the agency has been implementing Fire Prevention Patrols, but has thus far failed to implement a ban as Cal Fire has requested.

News that the Shockey Fire may also have been caused by target shooting has reignited concerns over shooting countywide in brushy, fire-prone areas.

ECM has contacted Congressmen Duncan Hunter and Bob Filner’s offices to ask if they support a temporary shooting ban on federal BLM lands during fire season.

“Twenty-five percent of my neighbors lost their homes to fire in 2007,” Robin Brailsford, a Dulzura artist, has said. She and many others living in wildfire-prone areas in East County want to see the shooting ban implemented before more homes are lost.

 But Mitch Dashiell, a target shooter who also  owns a business selling sporting goods, defends target shooting on public lands. “The further closure of more and more public lands to the general public will do nothing to make a major dent in the fire problem,” he insisted.   

Error message

Support community news in the public interest! As nonprofit news, we rely on donations from the public to fund our reporting -- not special interests. Please donate to sustain East County Magazine's local reporting and/or wildfire alerts at to help us keep people safe and informed across our region.