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How To Keep a Campfire Under Control

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July 11, 2012
How To Keep a Campfire Under Control - 3

The wildfires and resulting damage in Colorado and New Mexico have been horrific over the past few weeks. Over 600 homes have been destroyed, and 5 lives were lost. It is bitter irony that such a useful tool as fire can stray so far from its beneficial state and cause such havoc and loss as we have seen in recent days. (2012 Colorado fire data.)

Obviously, there are times and places where fire building is not a safe activity. There are even times when fires are illegal to light. But what happens when you get caught in a dry environment and you must have a fire? How do you keep the beast under control to boil your water, cook your food and signal for help?

Here are some techniques that can help:

• Clear the ground of flammable materials around your campfire area for at least five feet in every direction, making an overall 12 to 15 foot circle with nothing burnable inside.

• Avoid lighting fires in areas with a lot of dried grass. This is one of the most explosive forms of tinder in nature, and lighting fires next to it is begging for trouble.

• Find a place that is out of the wind to make your fire. This will limit the sparks that blow away.

• Dig a deep fire pit (2-3 feet deep), and keep the fire small.

• Use plenty of water and dirt to put the fire out when you’re done with it. These tips should help you, but in dry, windy conditions – you’d better just leave fire alone.

Comments (3)

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from azduane 7/12/2012 at 02:34pm

In my summers during college I worked for the Forest Service and had the "opportunity" to fight a few fires. They are amazing and scary things believe me.

In my country, and generally in the west, be very careful where there are a lot of dry pine needles. They make a great starter for a fire so you know if they catch fire it can run really fast. Not a good situation to be in.

Since I've lived in Arizona I am amazed at the number of times I've come across an unattended fire. And I mean the campers have broken camp and left a smoldering fire in the fire pit. I've used all my carry water before to put out an errant fire and then had to return to my camp to replenish my water. It just amazes me that people can be so stupid.

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from Bob Hansen 7/12/2012 at 12:52pm

Hi...

Tim's last bulleted paragraph says it all when under higher fire risk conditions...leave fire alone.

Would the Dakota fire pit contain flames better? I don't know...it would depend on the skill of the person building and using it. Using a camper's stove may be more prudent... again after clearing a properly sized area around it(this would be of little use in signaling, though).

And don't forget a water supply to extinguish the fire when you are done with it, and carefully stir up the remains of the fire afterward to make sure it is completely out.

NOTE: even professional firefighters are sometimes be called back for a "re-kindle"...!!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Tanis01 7/11/2012 at 09:49pm

Hey Tim,
Would a Dakota fire pit do any better at containing errant flames? Have you ever used one and, if so, how well did it work?

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from Bob Hansen 7/12/2012 at 12:52pm

Hi...

Tim's last bulleted paragraph says it all when under higher fire risk conditions...leave fire alone.

Would the Dakota fire pit contain flames better? I don't know...it would depend on the skill of the person building and using it. Using a camper's stove may be more prudent... again after clearing a properly sized area around it(this would be of little use in signaling, though).

And don't forget a water supply to extinguish the fire when you are done with it, and carefully stir up the remains of the fire afterward to make sure it is completely out.

NOTE: even professional firefighters are sometimes be called back for a "re-kindle"...!!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from azduane 7/12/2012 at 02:34pm

In my summers during college I worked for the Forest Service and had the "opportunity" to fight a few fires. They are amazing and scary things believe me.

In my country, and generally in the west, be very careful where there are a lot of dry pine needles. They make a great starter for a fire so you know if they catch fire it can run really fast. Not a good situation to be in.

Since I've lived in Arizona I am amazed at the number of times I've come across an unattended fire. And I mean the campers have broken camp and left a smoldering fire in the fire pit. I've used all my carry water before to put out an errant fire and then had to return to my camp to replenish my water. It just amazes me that people can be so stupid.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Tanis01 7/11/2012 at 09:49pm

Hey Tim,
Would a Dakota fire pit do any better at containing errant flames? Have you ever used one and, if so, how well did it work?

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Write a Comment Your comment (200 characters or less):