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OC Backpackers Message Board Backpacking Discussions › Responsibility for Fire

Responsibility for Fire

Pittsfield, MA
Post #: 170
Last weekend my girlfriend and I were hiking in Ramsey's Draft Wilderness and one afternoon we smelled a campfire. When you're hiking through the woods, this is often a pleasing smell, but when we got closer we realized that it was actually an unattended campfire. Somebody had left some smoldering pieces of wood that morning, and then when the wind picked up it stoked the fire back up. It caused a major hazard, especially this time of year with all the dry leaves on the ground.

We used a lot of our precious drinking water to put out this fire, but we may have saved one of my favorite camping areas from destruction. If the fire had made it out of the fire ring, it would have burned that entire valley.

We haven't really discussed fire on our boards or About page, so let me be clear with the rules for fire in the wilderness.
1) Build fire only in existing fire rings.
2) Clear all dry brush 10 feet around the campfire. The same rule applies to your camp stove.
3) Do not use accelerants like gas or lighter fluid (small firestarters are ok).
4) Have water nearby to put out the fire. If you don't have easy access to water, you probably should not be starting a fire.
5) Your fire should not burn more than a couple feet high. No bon-fires.
6) Don't burn logs that are too big to be consumed during a single campfire. Not only is it difficult to put out a big log at bedtime, but a big black charred log in camp is an eyesore.
7) When you go to sleep, put your fire all the way out using the Drown-Stir-Drown method. This should be self-explanatory. Also, try turning off your flashlight; if you still see sparks, the fire is not out.
8) When you leave camp the next day, put your fire all the way out.

Think about it this way: What is the largest thing you've ever broken, lost, or destroyed? For most of us, we might be talking about a dropped cell phone, a delicate piece of grandma's china, or perhaps a favorite car. Well, what about a forest? Something that is so large, complex, old, and unique is surprisingly fragile compared to the power of a forest fire.

Now, are you willing to risk destroying an entire ecosystem just because you couldn't handle the responsibility to properly put out a campfire?
A former member
Post #: 566
Thank you, Jeff! Nicely done!

I'll add one other little piece of info. Not that it's specific to the fire safety, but more of LNT practice. Check the fire ring when leaving camp to make sure there are no pieces of trash left in it. On more than one group trip I've pulled trash out of the campfire ring. Whether or not it's left by us, let's be nice and take it out.

Special thanks to Rosanne for doing that this weekend so I didn't have too!
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