Did you know that humans cause nearly 85 percent of wildland fires in the United States? Campfires left unattended, burning debris, equipment use and malfunctions, negligently discarded cigarettes, and intentional acts of arson are the main culprits.
Now, with hunting season upon us, we wanted to share a few things you can do to prevent causing a wildfire on public lands or any other wildland. These are all from BLM press releases and public information.
Campfire Safety (if campfires are permitted by current local regulations)
Preparing the campfire spot:
- Use existing fire rings and pits where available.
- Find a level spot away from overhanging branches, brush, or dry grass.
- Keep away from the base of a hill.
- Clear a circle 10 feet wide down to bare dirt.
- Hollow out a fire pit 6 inches deep and 2 feet across at the center of the cleared circle, piling the dirt around the pit.
Never leave your campfire unattended even for a few minutes, or if you take a nap.
Keep fires small. Hot dogs, marshmallows, and ghost stories all go better with a small manageable fire.
Putting out your campfire:
- Drown your campfire with water 30 minutes before you break camp, and before you go to bed each night. Never allow your fire to burn down on its own. Use your shovel to separate the burning pieces of wood in the pit, and make sure they are soaked with water.
- Stir and mix water with the ashes until the fire is out.
- Feeling the ashes with your bare hand is one technique to make sure it is out
- Before you leave the campsite, carefully check the area within 50 feet of the fire pit for sparks or embers that may have escaped you fire.
Vehicle Safety (applies to all your vehicles and trailers)
Be sure chains and other metal parts aren’t dragging from your vehicle; they can throw sparks.
Check your tire air pressure; driving on an exposed wheel can cause sparks.
Avoid driving through dry grass or brush. Hot exhaust pipes can start the grass on fire, and grass may become packed around your hot catalytic convertor. You may not even notice the fire until it is too late. Never park in dry grass.
Never let your brake pads wear too thin: metal on metal makes sparks.
Landscape debris piles should be no bigger than 4 feet by 4 feet, but tall enough and packed tight to burn clean. Do not build piles under overhanging tree limbs.
Clear all flammable material and vegetation within 10 feet of the outer edge of the pile.
Keep a water supply and shovel close to the burning site until the fire is completely out.
Ensure weather conditions are such that burning is safe, particularly the wind. If you’re not sure, contact the National Weather Service in Riverton or your local weather service office.
Two Closing Items
1. And always make sure you know and follow local burning regulations, the Industrial Fire Precaution (IFPL), and public use restrictions. Note: you can download a PDF with a description of the IFPL levels here.
2. Remember that you can be held liable for the cost of firefighting and damages caused by wildfire that starts through negligence on your part.