CUSTER GALLATIN NATIONAL FOREST
BIG SKY – On Nov. 5, 2020 the Porcupine Wildfire just east of Big Sky, Montana was reported around 1 p.m. in the afternoon. The wildfire was located approximately one mile from the Porcupine Prescribed Burn that was being conducted by Forest Service personnel. All suspected human-caused fires are investigated by the Forest Service, and a joint investigation was conducted by the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office and Forest Service Law Enforcement. The investigation determined that the Porcupine wildfire was caused by target shooting.
Investigators were ultimately able to identify the individual who was responsible for the gun fire. The person told investigators that they saw flame directly behind their target after shooting; they attempted to put the fire out but were unsuccessful due to the wind.
The Forest Service was conducting prescribed burning activities approximately one mile from the wildfire. The Porcupine Prescribed Burn is a multi-year effort to regenerate aspen stands in the area to benefit wildlife habitat. When reports of the wildfire were received, all prescribed burning activities stopped. Local, state and Forest Service crews began suppressing the wildfire.
“We appreciate everyone who worked with law enforcement to bring this investigation to a conclusion,” said Corey Lewellen, Bozeman District Ranger. “I also appreciate the community’s patience as we processed a challenging investigation. We are committed to continuing our communication and transparency as it relates to forest management and prescribed fire, and I greatly value the comments and concerns that I have heard from the Big Sky community.”
“We all need to be mindful and careful, when it comes to target shooting,” said Gallatin County Sherriff, Dan Springer. “Be aware of the types of natural fuels beyond your target when shooting.”