Practice fire safety on public lands during Labor Day weekend

August 30, 2011

By Staff

NEW — 6 a.m. Aug. 30, 2011

State Department of Natural Resources leaders urge campers, recreationists, woods workers and other forest visitors to practice fire safety during Labor Day weekend.

The agency has a burn ban in place until Sept. 30 for 12.7 million acres, including Tiger Mountain State Forest near Issaquah. Under the ban, campfires may be allowed, but only in approved fire pits in designated campgrounds. Moreover, campers cannot build fire pits.

“Eighty-five percent of Washington’s wildfires are human-caused,” state Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark said. “Please help us stop wildfires before they start.”

In addition, local restrictions on campfires might be in place, so people should check before leaving home to go camping or hiking.

In designated areas, the Department of Natural Resources is asking people to:

  • Use existing fire rings; do not create new rings.
  • Clear all vegetation away from the fire ring. Remove all flammable materials, such as needles, leaves, sticks, etc.
  • Keep the campfire small.
  • Keep plenty of water and a shovel nearby for throwing dirt on the fire if the flames get out of control.
  • Never leave a campfire unattended.

When putting out your campfire, people enjoying the outdoors should:

  • Drown the campfire with water.
  • Next, mix the ashes and embers with soil. Scrape all partially-burned sticks and logs to remove all of the hot embers.
  • Stir the embers after they are covered with water and make sure everything is wet.
  • Feel the coals, embers and any partially-burned wood with your hands. Everything should be cool to the touch.
  • When you think you are done, take another minute and add more water. Stir the remains, add more water, and stir again.
  • If you don’t have water, use moist dirt. Be careful not to bury any hot or burning material, as it can smolder and later start a wildfire.
  • Finally, check the entire campsite for possible sparks or embers; it only takes one to start a forest fire.
  • If it is too hot to touch, it is too hot to leave.

For daily updates on burn restrictions, call 1-800-323-BURN or go to the Department of Natural Resources website showing fire danger and burning restrictions by county.

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