Topic: Campfire Safety
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A nice big campfire is one of the traditions of camping, a great source of heat on a cold Autumn night, and useful for keeping that pot of coffee hot! If you are going to build a campfire off the road, first assure that you have a campfire permit (if required) and assure that there are no campfire closures in the particular area where you are camping. There are often severe restrictions in hot summer months. Those restrictions can range to almost none to restrictions so severe that you cannot even use a camp stove outside of an approved campground. These restrictions are in place to prevent forest fires when fire dangers are extreme. If you are on public lands, you can obtain a campfire permit an most ranger stations.

Where open campfires are permitted or sensible (based on fire danger and wind in your area), clear an area down to bare dirt at least 15 feet in diameter all around the campfire - the more the better (middle photograph). Avoid areas where there are low hanging tree branches or nearby brush. Surround the area where you are going to build the fire with as many rocks as you can find to make a nice fire pit. The rocks will get hot and throw off lots of heat and make a handy place for a grill.

Assure that you have a shovel and a large can of water near the fire at all times. This will allow you to quickly control a fire by throwing dirt or water on a fire that is getting out of control (bottom photograph).

When you are getting ready to leave camp, put the fire out first, before you pack up anything else. This will give you time to recheck that the fire is completely out while you pack up the remainder of your stuff. Dump 3 or 4 large cans of water on the fire if there is water nearby. Or cover the entire firepit with 6 inches of dirt and pack it down! If you are going to leave the campsite temporarily, say to go fishing, you must assure that the fire is out. Sudden winds can blow the smallest smouldering embers into the underbrush and start a forest fire. You must assure that the fire is dead out before you leave the campsite.
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