Montanans urged to be careful with campfires

Posted at 10:07 AM, Jul 20, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-20 12:07:24-04

BOZEMAN – More wildfires have been popping up in Montana and across the Northwest highlighting the importance of knowing how to properly extinguish campfires.

The US Forest Service has a few tips on how to take care of your campground. With lots of people heading out to the forests during fire season, it’s important to know where the safest place to have a camp or bonfire, if you choose to do so.

First, make sure you find a place with little vegetation.

“You always need to make sure where you use your campfire, if there’s an existing ring, use it. Especially if there’s a metal ring, you need to use that metal ring. You also want to make sure there aren’t any overhanging branches.” said USFS spokesman Marianne Baumberger.

After enjoying your campfire, you need water to start putting the fire out. “You have to have water or a way to carry water, maybe you’re up on a four-wheeler, you can use your helmet as a bucket,” Baumberger said.

Make sure to pour water over the fire and cover it using a shovel to the point where you can comfortably touch the burned ashes.

“Until you can touch those ashes, just like the firefighters, when firefighters are mopping up a large fire they will call it cold trailing and they actually have to take their glove off and touch to see if there’s heat in there or not,” Baumberger said.

When you’re leaving the campground you need to make sure to pick up after yourself to leave the site better than before you came.

“Most places don’t have garbage pickup like you do back home so if you pack it in, you pack it out. Another problem is that people will bring palettes and they have wood that has a lot of nails in it and nobody wants a nail in their tire, and nobody wants to have the pay the Forest Service to come get the trash, and that comes out of our tax dollars.” Baumberger said.

The USFS offers up the following tips when using a campfire:

  • Never build a campfire under trees or overhanging branches.
  • Clear a 10-foot area of pine needles & grass.
  • Keep plenty of water on hand, and have a shovel handy.
  • Keep all campfires small.
  • Never leave a campfire unattended.
  • Be sure your campfire is ‘dead out’!
  • Check for fire restrictions