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Campfire Safety Prevents Wildfires

Clovis, CA June 02, 2017 – With the Memorial Day Weekend behind us, schools will be letting out for the summer and visits to the Sierra National Forest (NF) will increase. Activities such as camping, backpacking, and picnicking in the great outdoors often include the enjoyment of a campfire.  

The Sierra NF would like to remind our visitors to be responsible in their enjoyment and use of a campfire. Not only will it serve the purpose of providing warmth in the cool evenings, or roasting marshmallows, but it is part of the camping experience to sit around the fire and enjoy the company of those with you.

Over the Memorial Day weekend fire prevention patrols discovered campfires that were left unattended and not properly extinguished. As a result on seven (7) occasions, additional resources had to be dispatched just to resolve abandoned campfires. Fortunately these campfires did not escape and become wildfire.

On the Sierra NF, campfire permits are required for the use of campfires, charcoal fires, or portable gas stoves outside of a designated recreation area when there are no “fire restrictions” in place. These permits are free and are available at all Forest Service, BLM, or CAL-Fire offices or online at www.preventwildfireca.org.

When you obtain a Campfire Permit you agree to:

•    Clear all flammable material away from the fire for a minimum of 10 feet in all directions to prevent escape of the fire.

•    Have a shovel and at least five (5) gallons of water available at the campfire site for preparing, and extinguishing your campfire.

•    Have a responsible person in attendance at all times when there is a campfire. Leave the permit with that person and make sure they are aware of terms of the permit.

Here are a few additional tips to follow, for you to recreate and enjoy your campfire on the Sierra NF responsibly:

•    Prepare your site - Find a level spot away from overhanging branches, brush or dry grass. Keep away from the base of a hill, escaped campfires can travel up-hill very quickly.

•    Beware of duff - Duff is the layer of decomposing material that lies on the forest floor between the pine needles and the bare dirt. Duff burns while bare dirt does not.
•    Attend to your fire - Never leave a fire unattended, even for a few minutes or to take a nap. It only takes a moment for a fire to escape.

•    Drown the fire – Drown your campfire ½ hour before you break camp. Use your shovel to separate the burning pieces of wood in the fire pit.

•    Stir and Mix – Stir and mix water with ashes until the fire is completely out. “Don’t” try to bury the fire it can smolder for hours and possibly escape.

•    Drown Charcoal Briquettes – Charcoal briquettes should be extinguished by placing them in a bucket of water stirred thoroughly, then poured into the fire pit.

•    Check the Ashes – Using the back of your hand feel by pressing down slowly to see if there is still heat present. Additional water and stirring may be needed, make sure the fire is out before you leave the campsite. Walk around check the area 50 feet from the fire pit to make sure embers or sparks did not escape.

•    It Can Cost You - You can/will be held liable for the cost of suppression and damages caused by any wildfire that starts through negligence on your part.

•    Come Prepared – Obtain your campfire permit, bring your shovel, a bucket of water, and check with Forest staff to see if there are fire restrictions in place.

For more information on campfire permits follow this link https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/sierra/passes-permits/?cid=fsbdev7_018116. To obtain your campfire permit on line follow this link http://www.preventwildfireca.org/.

For further information regarding the Sierra National Forest and recreational activities please contact the High Sierra Ranger District office in Prather, Calif. at 559-855-5355; the Bass Lake Ranger District in North Fork, Calif. at 559-877-2218; or the Forest Supervisors Office in Clovis, Calif. at 559-297-0706, or go online to www.fs.usda.gov/sierra

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