U.S. Forest Service offers campfire safety tips for holiday weekend

July 6, 2019 — Forest officials remind visitors to campgrounds around Oregon to be careful with campfires while celebrating the holiday weekend.

All fireworks, sparklers included, are prohibited on all lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service, including the Siuslaw and Willamette national forests. With increasingly dry conditions, visitors are also reminded to be careful with campfires.

“Fireworks pose a serious fire threat,” said Ed Hiatt, Fire Staff Officer for Northwest Oregon Interagency Fire Management. “People often assume the restrictions apply just to forested areas, but they also include campgrounds and sparsely vegetated areas you can find along the coast. Under dry conditions, even these places are susceptible.”

The penalty for possessing fireworks can be as high as $5,000, imprisonment for up to six months, or both.

No other fire restrictions are currently in place on the Willamette or Siuslaw national forests, but visitors are asked to be mindful of Oregon’s increasingly dry conditions when visiting public lands this summer.

By following these safety tips, visitors can help prevent avoidable wildfires:

1. Keep campfires small and in an area cleared down to mineral soil.

A campfire is less likely to escape control if it is kept small. A large fire may cast hot embers long distances. Add firewood in small amounts as existing material is consumed.

2. Select the right spot for campfires. Where campfires are allowed, choose a site with an existing ring. Fire pits in established campgrounds are the best spots. If individuals choose to build a campfire, avoid building it near tents, structures, vehicles, shrubs or trees, and be aware of low-hanging branches overhead.

Clear the site down to bare soil, at least five feet on all sides, and circle it with rocks. Store unused firewood a good distance from the fire.

3. Extinguish all campfires before leaving, even if gone for a short period of time.

Bring a shovel and a bucket of water to extinguish any escaped embers. When ready to leave, drown all embers with water, stir the coals, and drown again. Repeat until the fire is “DEAD” out.

If it is too hot to touch, it is too hot to leave.

4. Attend campfires at all times. A campfire left unattended for even a few minutes can grow into a costly, damaging wildfire.

Stay with campfires from start to finish until it is dead out, as required by law. That ensures any escaped sparks or embers can be extinguished quickly.

Call 911 to report the illegal use of fireworks or unsafe fire use. Additional campfire and wildfire safety information can be found at www.smokeybear.com.                   

Visit the Siuslaw and Willamette National Forest’s websites to learn of current personal use restrictions for fire and find them on social media at Siuslaw National Forest at www.fs.usda.gov/siuslaw or @siuslawnf and Willamette National Forest at www.fs.usda.gov/willa mette.


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