Fire crews work to contain the perimeter of the Louis Creek fire.

As people pack their trucks, pile into RVs and overload their sedans for the upcoming holiday weekend, officials with the Douglas Forest Protective Association are urging travelers to practice campfire safety.

“Abandoned campfires are a common issue that we see this time of year” said Kyle Reed, a spokesman with the DFPA. “Many people think that a campfire will simply burn itself out and believe that they don’t need to extinguish their campfire when they leave the area. What people don’t realize is that campfires that are not properly extinguished can smolder for days or even weeks before popping back to life and potentially becoming a wildfire.”

Reed recommended taking a few precautions before building a fire this weekend:

  • Many industrial landowners do not allow campfires on their property any time of year. It is your responsibility to know whose land you are on and have permission from the landowner before building a campfire.
  • Build campfires away from overhanging branches, steep slopes, rotten logs, and stumps.
  • Scrape away grass, leaf litter, duff, and any other flammable material within 5 feet of the campfire. This will help prevent your campfire from spreading.
  • Keep campfires small. Small campfires are safer and easier to manage.
  • Always keep water and a shovel nearby.
  • Never leave a campfire unattended. A breeze may come up while you’re gone and spread the fire to nearby vegetation.
  • Extinguish the campfire before leaving the area. Drown the fire with water, stir and separate the coals with a shovel, and drown with water again. If any heat or smoke remains, the fire is not 100% out. Continue adding water and stirring the ashes until all heat and smoke is extinguished.

Reed also said residents are liable for fire suppression cost and associated damages that result from escaped or abandoned campfires. Those costs can range anywhere from a few hundred dollars, to potentially, millions of dollars.

This year the DFPA has already suppressed three wildfires that resulted from abandoned campfires.

Ian Campbell can be reached at ian@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4209. Or follow him on Twitter @MrCampbell17.

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