By Michael Abeyta

BASALT, Colo. (CBS4)– As the Lake Christine Fire grows between Basalt and El Jebel, many residents can only watch as flames draw closer to their communities. It is a day they feared would come.

“It’s so dry that we knew that if anything caught, it would start to go right away,” said resident Joanie Haggerty.

The Lake Christine Fire (credit: CBS)

Those dry conditions combined with two people shooting tracer bullets at a shooting range near Basalt, are what started the fire. Tracer bullets are bullets that have an incendiary device at the base of the round. When it is shot from a gun, it ignites allowing the shooter to guide his shot toward a target.

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Those kind of bullets are mostly used by the military.

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Richard Taylor, a gun expert and manager at Firing Line in Aurora, says, “Honestly unless you’ve got two feet of snow on the ground, it’s probably something that you really shouldn’t be using as a civilian.”

He says that using tracer ammo in dry conditions is a bad idea and likely will start a fire.

Richard Taylor (credit: CBS)

“It’s a well-known fire danger, I mean you know, just as bad as setting off fireworks in a national forest,” says Taylor.

The Lake Christine Fire (credit: CBS)

Because of the risk of fire, shooting tracer rounds has been banned on all Colorado Parks and Wildlife lands and National Forest lands, as well as many shooting ranges in Colorado. The tracer rounds are also banned under stage two fire restrictions, so if you are caught using it you can face criminal prosecution.

The Lake Christine Fire (credit: CBS)

Just like the two who started the Lake Christine Fire. Richard says you probably shouldn’t risk it.

“Honestly it’s probably not really necessary for people to use tracer ammunition,” says Taylor.

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He says that shooting in dry areas always poses the risk of fire whether you are shooting tracer rounds or not.

His advice is to avoid it all together, “Honestly right now, I would suggest most people not shoot in areas where you’ve got high fire danger.”

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Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s outdoor ranges in the northeastern part of the state have been closed for a while and now officials are now considering closing ranges in the northwest part of the state because of the high fire danger.

Wildfire Resources

– Visit CBSDenver.com’s Living With Wildfire section.

Wildfire Photo Galleries

– See images from the most destructive wildfires (Black Forest, Waldo Canyon, High Park and Fourmile), the deadliest (Storm King) and largest wildfire (Hayman) in Colorado history.

Michael Abeyta is a 4th generation Coloradan and a Multimedia Journalist for CBS4. His stories can be seen on CBS4 News at 5 & 6. He is on Twitter! Follow him @AbeytaCBS4.

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