Don’t let your campfire get out of hand; unattended campfires cause big headaches

Forest fire
Nine out of ten wildfires are caused by people. Unattended campfires are especially hazardous. Photo: DNR.

Campfires are popular with campers in the great outdoors. But do we all remember to put our campfires completely out before going to bed or before leaving the campsite? Unfortunately, not everyone does. Their intentions aren’t bad; they think it will burn out on its own. But it’s not that simple.

Nine out of ten wildfires are caused by people. It’s believed that the Wallow Wildfire that has burned hundreds of thousands of acres in Arizona may have been caused by an unattended campfire.

The Wallow Wildfire in Arizona illustrates what an abandoned campfire can do. Wind can drive a tiny ember from your smoldering campfire into a large, catastrophic wildfire, with the potential to destroy lives and property.

Three things to know about campfire safety

1) Do you have the landowner’s permission to build a campfire?

2) Keep your campfire small and attended to at all times.

3) Put out your campfire completely, meaning cool to the touch, before you leave it.

Smokey Bear has a wonderful tip for preventing an escaped campfire to becoming a wildfire!

Are you thinking of setting off fireworks? It’s illegal to discharge fireworks on DNR-protected lands.

Campfires may be allowed in approved fire pits, but otherwise, please keep in mind that a statewide burn ban takes place July 1 through September 30 for all DNR-protected land. If you’re not sure about the landownership, contact your local DNR Region Office.

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