Over the 4th of July holiday weekend Forest Service firefighters extinguished abandoned campfires on most ranger districts of the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. Luckily, these fires were either still inside fire rings or had not grown larger than about a tenth of an acre.
“Most campers are really conscientious and put out their campfires. Unfortunately, we continue to have people who don’t take the time to make sure their campfires are out before leaving their campsite,” said Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest Fire Staff Officer Keith Satterfield.
“We want people to have fun and enjoy the national forest but we also want folks to make sure all campfires are put out before they leave. People don’t realize that a campfire that isn’t properly extinguished can smolder and be active long after it seems out,” Satterfield said.
Cooler weather conditions forecast for later this week will help keep forest fuels moist but once hot summer time weather returns fire danger can rapidly increase.
“Add fast, hot dry winds, and abandoned campfires can quickly become large wildfires,” Satterfield said.
Forest users are asked to make sure their campfire is completely out before leaving a campsite; don’t let them burn out on their own as embers can be propelled outside the fire ring for several hours. Also, just throwing dirt on a fire doesn’t put it out. Pour water over the embers, stir, add more water and then make sure everything is cool to the touch before leaving.
“We thank people for being so diligent in putting out their campfires and for reporting fires and we encourage them to continue to do so,” Satterfield added.
Before leaving home, always check to find out what the campfire restrictions are for the area you plan to visit.