The US Forest Service and the Keep Oregon Green Association encourage people to brush up on campfire safety before enjoying the comforting crackling of a fire to help prevent wildfires this summer.
With last year’s fires still fresh in our minds, it’s important to note that 81 percent of those fires were caused by people. This is greater than the average of 61 percent over the last 10 years.
Escaped campfires can threaten lives, homes and livelihoods, in addition to being costly and destructive. Do your part by keeping in mind the following:
• Check conditions, including weather forecasts and public use restrictions before heading out at keeporegongreen.org/current-conditions.
• Consider alternatives to a campfire, like a portable camp stove for cooking and solar-powered lantern or flashlight for an evening of campfire storytelling.
• Select the right spot if campfires are allowed. Use an existing fire ring or pit in established campgrounds. Avoid placing fires near shrubs, trees (including low-hanging branches), tents, structures or vehicles, and store extra firewood a good distance away.
• If no ring or pit is available, clear the site to bare soil, remove ground vegetation at least five feet on all sides and encircle the fire with rocks.
• Never use gasoline or other accelerants to start or increase your campfire.
• Keep fires small. The larger the fire, the more likely it is to escape and the more likely hot embers will travel long distances. Add firewood in small amounts, only after existing material is burned.
• Attend your campfire at all times. In just a few minutes, an unattended campfire can grow into a costly, damaging wildfire.
• Have water and fire tools on site. Bring a shovel and a bucket of water to extinguish any escaped embers.
• Drown all embers with water before leaving. Stir the coals and drown them again, repeating until the fire is cold. The basic rule is that if it’s too hot to touch, it’s too hot to leave.