“When this happens we have to commit resources to respond,” said Mt. Hood and Gifford Pinchot national forests Deputy Fire Staff Officer, Ross Williams. “This costs taxpayers money and pulls personnel from other projects.”
Those leaving campfires unattended could be billed for the cost of suppression of the fire occurring due to their negligence. “Even as fire precaution levels become higher, we want people to go out and enjoy their forests,” Williams continued. “Just do it responsibly and safely.”
While campfires in designated areas are still allowed on the Gifford Pinchot and Mt. Hood National Forests, some state and local departments are instituting burn bans. Please check with Forest, State or local agencies for current fire restrictions.
Gifford Pinchot Fire Prevention Technicians, Greg Page and Angie Bogut recommend the following campfire safety precautions:
· Always abide by local campfire laws.
· Only adults should build and maintain campfires.
· Never leave a campfire unattended.
· Find a shady spot away from dry logs, branches, bushes, needles or leaves.
· Make sure there are no overhanging tree branches near the fire.
· Use existing fire-rings where it is safe to do so. Don’t build fire-rings in roads.
· If needed, scoop a small hole to mineral soil in the center of the pit. Set this material aside, and replace it in the ring when the fire is totally out before leaving the area.
· Place rocks if available around pit. When finished put rocks back where they were found.
· Keep campfire rings small and use wood no bigger than the ring.
· Keep tents and other burnable materials away from the fire.
· Fires can often creep along the ground slowly burning roots and dead leaves. Days later, the smoldering fire could break out into a real wildfire.
· When leaving, make sure your fire is DEAD OUT. Very carefully feel all sticks and charred remains. Feel the coals and ashes. Make sure no roots are smoldering.
· Drown the campfire with water and stir charred material.
· If it's too hot to touch, it's too hot to leave.
Find more campfire safety information at http://www.smokeybear.com/campfire-safety.asp.