CalFire has confirmed what we reported in this issue: The Morgan Fire was caused by target shooting in the mercury mine on Morgan Territory Rd.
Jack Wessman, 85, owns the property and lives in a house above the mine. Hearing gunshots, he drove down to the mine and discovered that a relative target shooting on the property had sparked the fire and was trying to put it out. Wessman called 911 and attacked the fire with a fire extinguisher. By the time the first fire truck arrived, Wessman said the fire was nearly out so the crew on site canceled the backup. But Wessman said about 10 minutes later the fire suddenly “exploded,” sending flames racing up the mountain. The fire was out of control by the time more fire fighters arrived and ultimately burned over 3000 acres.
More details and coverage of the fire and the aftermath will be in the September 27 issue.