Oregon Parks and Rec offers six tips for making campfires safe and enjoyable this season

SALEM, Ore. (KTVZ) — Campfire gatherings are a highlight for many visitors to Oregon State Parks. By following a few basic guidelines, you can safely enjoy this tradition and reduce the risk of injury and wildfires.

Despite the wet and snowy spring, wildfires in Oregon are a real hazard. Because of this, the most important precaution you can take is to follow posted fire safety regulations. Sometimes campfires and other open flames are prohibited at campgrounds or on the beach.

Depending on the conditions, restrictions can occur at any time and without warning. Before you leave, be sure to find out about the conditions around your campsite. Fire safety restrictions may apply at the park, county, or state level. The Oregon State Parks website posts the latest information on state park campfires.

Restrictions may apply even though the park is far from wildfires. When wildfires rage, emergency responders and firefighters need to be on the front lines. We ask campers to do their part to ensure a campground emergency doesn’t divert resources from nationwide firefighting.

“If you’re camping with children or anyone new to outdoor recreation, it’s especially important to review campfire safety practices,” said Chris Havel, deputy director of the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department. “If you have a question or concern, speak to a park ranger or camp host.”

OPRD offers these six tips for a safe and enjoyable campfire:

  1. Keep campfire flames at knee height (no higher than 60 cm). A smaller flame prevents embers from rising into trees or dry vegetation. If you see the wind kicking up the embers, play it safe and put out the fire.
  2. In a state park campground, set campfires only in your campground’s existing fire pit. Rings of fire are placed in areas with buffer zones and away from vegetation.
  3. Always have enough water ready to safely extinguish the campfire. Douse the flames with water and stir the embers to ensure everything is moist. The stirring step is important: ash and wood scraps often maintain heat. Repeat these steps until the fire is no longer giving off heat.
  4. Beach bonfires should be on open sand and away from driftwood or vegetation, and only natural wood should be used, no pallets or other things that might contain hidden nails or screws. Slowly pour water on your beach fire to put it out. Pouring water too quickly can cause hot sand to fly up. Don’t use sand to put out a beach fire. Covering the fire with sand insulates the coals and keeps them hot enough to burn someone hours or days later.
  5. Follow the same safety precautions with a propane fire as you would with a log campfire. The use of propane fire rings may be restricted depending on local conditions.
  6. Make sure everyone at your campsite is familiar with campfire safety, including children. Always keep an eye on your campfire; Many unintentional fires start because campers left their fire unattended for “just a minute.”

As well as keeping your campfire safe, it’s also important to ensure your wood is free of invasive insects to protect our forests from the deadly emerald ash borer and other pests. Please do not bring firewood from outside the local area. Buy local firewood within 10 miles of your destination or buy certified heat treated firewood.

In May, the Oregon Department of Forestry, Oregon Office of State Fire Marshal, Office of Emergency Management, Keep Oregon Green, US Forest Service, OPRD and other federal, state and local emergency and response agencies encourage the public to work in their local communities to prevent the risk of forest fires.

Visit keeporegongreen.org for information on recreation and wildfire protection. Visit stateparks.oregon.gov for information about Oregon State Parks, including fire restrictions and safety guidelines.

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