Wildfire near Rexburg

An aerial view of the raging wildfire currently burning west of Rexburg.

The Desert Ride Fire, burning 11 miles west of Rexburg, was 50 percent contained as of Monday.

The fire was ignited by a 25-year-old Rexburg man named Jacob Fagersten who was shooting a 22-caliber rifle at a firework on BLM property, according to a Monday afternoon news release from the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office. Fagersten will be charged with multiple criminal counts by both the Bureau of Land Management and the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office but has not been arrested, the release said. He has been cooperating with law enforcement.

The fire is estimated to be contained completely by around 10 p.m. Tuesday.

The fire is smoldering and is on flat terrain burning brush and grass as well as other “fine flashy fuels,” the release read.

The fire crews and resources battling the blaze include nine fire engines, two dozers and two water tenders.

No structures are currently under threat, and there have been no evacuations.

Kelsey Griffee, fire information and education specialist, said that the fire has stopped just before any agricultural lands. She said fire officials don’t expect to evacuate anyone from their property but if that did happen people could expect that their local sheriff’s office would contact them.

She said that they are mapping the area to determine the current scale of the fire.

“(The) dozer line is around 90 percent of the fire perimeter and engines are working to extinguish any heat along the line,” the release said “Winds are expected to pick up this afternoon, which may test containment lines.”

Nearly 80 firefighters from around the area helped ring in the fire. They included the Central Fire District, Clark County Rangeland Fire Protection Association, West Jefferson, Roberts, Hamer and Madison fire departments. At the peak of the fire, eastbound lanes of state Highway 33 were closed for a few hours Sunday.

BLM officials reported that their main concern is for the thousands of acres of sage grouse habitat that was destroyed by the fire.

In a previous interview, Griffee said that the Menan Butte has had a recent increase in man-made fires. Griffee said many in the area use explosive targets and fireworks at the Menan Butte, also known as R Mountain. She said these cause fires in the area and that it is illegal to use them at the Butte.

“Menan Butte or ‘R’ Mountain has seen an uptick in human-caused fires in the last couple of years,” according to a post on the Idaho Fire Info Facebook page. “In 2017 & 2018 the Menan area averaged six human-caused fires, which burned a total of 20,000 acres. Fires were mainly due to target shooting (includes exploding targets), fireworks and vehicles off-roading. Remember exploding targets, fireworks, incendiary and steel core ammunition are prohibited on BLM lands.”