As folks head to the woods to for the Memorial Day weekend, many will be building campfires for cooking, making s’mores or just to sit around.
Fire officials with the state Department of Natural Resources are asking campers to use caution.
During the past four years, there have been almost 700 wildfires that resulted from campers leaving their fire pits smoldering and unattended. Another 100 campers left campfires burning without first making sure they were fully extinguished. Fortunately, those were reported and put out before they escaped.
After a wet and cold spring, and few hot stretches during the summer, last year’s fire season was not as busy as typical.
This year is expected to be different. While the Pacific Northwest is not projected to experience the extreme drought currently gripping the southwestern and central United States, there should be a return to more normal summer weather patterns. That will mean higher fire danger than last year, department officials said.
If you and your family will be spending time in the outdoors this weekend and throughout the summer, here are easy, important guidelines to remember to help prevent wildfires:
• Only build a campfire in approved fire pits within campgrounds.
• Never leave a campfire until it is completely out and cool to the touch. If it’s too hot to touch, it’s too hot to leave.
• Always have a shovel and at least 5 gallons of water to extinguish a campfire. Use the water to drown the campfire and the shovel to stir the water and coals to cool it down.
• Only burn firewood from a local resource – this minimizes bugs and diseases spreading to healthy parts of the forests.
• Never build your own fire pit unless it’s on your property.