As many as 90 percent of wildland fires in
the United States are caused by humans. Some human-caused fires result from
campfires left unattended, the burning of debris, negligently discarded
cigarettes and intentional acts of arson. These fires put firefighters at risk
and commit fire suppression resources that may be needed for other incidents.
The Teton Interagency Fire program finds or responds to many abandoned campfires each year. Campers either leave a
campfire still burning when they depart the area, or they don’t completely extinguish
the fire and ensure all wood, ash, and other debris are no longer generating
heat. Embers picked up by a breeze can be carried into vegetation where they
have the potential to start a wildfire. Campers and day users should never
leave a fire unattended and always have a shovel on hand and a water bucket
ready for use. To date, Teton Interagency Fire personnel have documented 131 abandoned campfires in the 2013 fire season alone. Current fire danger bumped up from High to Very High on August 20.
The proper way to extinguish a campfire is to
repeatedly pour water on the site and stir the remaining wood and ashes in order to
mix in the water. The process needs to be repeated until you can place the back
of your hand close to the site and not feel any heat radiating from the ashes and wood, a process known as “cold-trailing.”
An entertaining 30-second YouTube video shows
the reward you may receive for properly extinguishing a campfire!
To report a wildfire, call the Teton Interagency Dispatch Center at 307.739.3630.
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