Abandoned Campfires a Problem

Sheridan, Wyo. (July 24, 2014) – A spate of abandoned campfires has prompted the Bighorn National Forest to ask for the public’s help in stopping this growing problem. It is a major concern as fire crews are spending time responding to and putting out abandoned campfires, which could delay responses to new wildfires.
 
     Fifteen illegal, abandoned, or escaped campfires have been discovered in the last three weeks. Firefighters have responded to five wildfires in the Bighorn National Forest this summer; three were caused by lightning and two were escaped campfires.
 
     Though fire danger is moderate in the Bighorns, conditions can change quickly as vegetation dries out on hot summer days. “Abandoned campfires can smolder for weeks before spreading to surrounding vegetation and potentially becoming a wildfire,” said fire management officer Kevin Hillard.
 
     Fire restrictions are not in force in the Bighorn National Forest at this time. If the hot and dry weather persists, restrictions may be implemented.
 
     Partial fire restrictions in Sheridan County apply only to state, county, and private lands.
     Here are some important tips about campfires.
 
     “If a wildfire results from your escaped campfire you can be subject to a citation and a fine between $225 and $5,000 and/or up to six months in jail,” said Hillard. “You can also be held responsible for the cost to suppress a wildfire, often running into hundreds of thousands of dollars and more.”     
 
     For more information about campfire and other wildfire safety tips, visit http://www.smokeybear.com/campfire-safety.asp.
 
     Fire restrictions on federal lands in Wyoming are posted at http://www.wy.blm.gov/wy_fire_restrictions/.
 
     For the latest fire conditions in the Bighorn National Forest and to find out areas where campfires are not allowed, contact the Bighorn National Forest in Buffalo at 307.684.7806, in Lovell at 307.548.6541, or in Sheridan at 307.674.2600. 
 
    • Check to see if fire restrictions are in effect in the area you’ll be camping.
    • Keep water and a shovel nearby.
    • Build campfires away from overhanging branches, steep slopes, rotten logs, stumps, dry grass, and dead leaves.
    • Scrape away litter, duff, and any other flammable material in a minimum five-foot diameter circle.
    • Keep campfires small. A good bed of coals or a small fire surrounded by rocks gives plenty of heat.
    • Never leave a campfire unattended. Even a small breeze can cause the fire to spread quickly.
    • Drown the fire with water. Make sure all embers, coals, and sticks are wet. Move rocks (carefully, they may still be hot) as embers may be hiding underneath.
    • Stir, add more water, and stir again. Be sure all burned material has been extinguished and cooled.
    • If you don’t have water, use dirt. Mix enough sand or soil with the embers. Continue this process until all material is cold to the touch.
    • Don’t bury coals as they can smolder and break out.
    • If you use charcoal briquettes, soak the coals in lots of water, stir, and soak again.
    • Don’t let “If only . . . “ haunt your memory. Be sure your fire is out cold.

  “If a wildfire results from your escaped campfire you can be subject to a citation and a fine between $225 and $5,000 and/or up to six months in jail,” said Hillard. “You can also be held responsible for the cost to suppress a wildfire, often running into hundreds of thousands of dollars and more.”     
 
     For more information about campfire and other wildfire safety tips, visit http://www.smokeybear.com/campfire-safety.asp.
 
     Fire restrictions on federal lands in Wyoming are posted at http://www.wy.blm.gov/wy_fire_restrictions/.
 
     For the latest fire conditions in the Bighorn National Forest and to find out areas where campfires are not allowed, contact the Bighorn National Forest in Buffalo at 307.684.7806, in Lovell at 307.548.6541, or in Sheridan at 307.674.2600. 
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