Human-caused fires concern BTNF officials
by Bridger-Teton National Forest
August 15, 2006
A growing number of abandoned campfires on the Bridger-Teton National Forest are causing concern to area fire management officials. Out of 38 wildfires on the Bridger-Teton National Forest this year, 16 were human caused. “This is a real serious concern for us. The 16 human caused wildfires statistic doesn’t even reflect how many abandoned campfires we find,” says Dean Burnham, Fire Prevention Officer.
Fires must escape the fire ring to be counted as a wildfire. Most are caught and extinguished before they escape, thus being called abandoned campfires. “I just don’t think most people take the time necessary to properly extinguish their campfire before they leave the area. With a lot of the fires we find, it appears folks have made some attempt to put them out but didn’t make sure they were ‘dead out’.”
Burnham goes on to say that the fire activity in the west is picking up and our resources can easily be tied up fighting some of these larger fires. “Our fear is that if we get a lot of careless human caused fires, we may be caught short.”
“Most people don’t intend to start a wildfire, but they don’t put their campfires out or leave them unattended. The result could be potentially disastrous,” said Burnham. “People don’t realize that they can be held responsible for suppression costs.”
These human caused fires have Fire Managers reiterating a fire safety message for all Forest users, “We’d like to remind all visitors to the Bridger-Teton to build their campfires in an existing fire ring free of flammable fuels and away from overhanging branches, never leave them unattended, and to extinguish them completely before leaving the area. Always keep a bucket of water and a shovel nearby. When putting a campfire
out, drown it with water, stir with a shovel, and never leave a fire until it is cold to the touch,” says Burnham.
To report an abandoned campfire or wildfire call Teton Interagency Dispatch at 307-739-3630 or dial 911. For more information on fires burning on the Bridger-Teton, visit www.tetonfires.com.