As weather conditions continue to remain dry, forest officials on the Umatilla National Forest remind the public to use safety precautions when building campfires on the national forest.

Campfires should be in a fire pit surrounded by dirt, rock, or commercial rings, in areas cleared of all flammable material within a three-foot radius from the edge of the pit and free of overhanging material. Forest visitors should also carry a shovel and one gallon of water while building and tending campfires. These guidelines also apply to the use of charcoal briquettes.

“The public’s awareness of the increasing fire danger is essential to a safe fire season,” said Brett Thomas, Umatilla Fire Management Officer. “We ask for everyone’s help and diligence in practicing safe campfire building techniques that, in the long run, will protect lives, property, and our natural landscapes.”

Campfire safety principles in dispersed and developed campsites are meant to encourage campfire safety before fire season comes full-swing. While lightning is the number one cause of wildfires in the Blue Mountains, human-cause wildfires are preventable, unpredictable and can occur anywhere with no warning.

As conditions continue to get warmer and drier weather and fire danger levels increase, the Umatilla National Forest will implement Public Use Restrictions, also known as PURs, which will restrict the use of campfires, chainsaws, smoking, and travel. PURs will be implemented in phases, based on increased fire danger, hot and dry weather conditions, and concern for public safety.

Forest officials recommend the following campfire safety precautions:

  • Always abide by local campfire laws.
  • Only adults should build and maintain campfires.
  • Find a shady spot away from dry logs, overhanging branches, bushes, needles, or leaves.
  • Use existing fire-rings where it is safe to do so. Don’t build fire-rings in roads.
  • Keep campfire rings small and use wood no bigger than the ring.
  • Keep tents and other burnable materials away from the fire.
  • Never leave a campfire unattended. Those leaving campfires unattended can be billed for the cost of fire suppression.
  • Drown the campfire with water and stir charred material.
  • When leaving, make sure your fire is DEAD OUT. Very carefully feel all sticks and charred remains. Make sure no roots are smoldering. If it’s too hot to touch, it’s too hot to leave.

Find more campfire safety information at: http://www.smokeybear.com/campfire-safety.asp

For more information on public use restrictions and fire danger levels, contact your local Forest Service office or visit one of the following websites: