With Labor Day just around the corner, many individuals and families will be headed to the forest, ocean, mountains or high desert for one last summer camping adventure.
State fire officials are asking those folks to be extremely cautious with their campfires given current conditions. The National Weather Service forecast for the weekend calls for above-normal temperatures and below-normal precipitation across the state.
Campers are reminded that recreational fires are not allowed on state lands except in approved designated campgrounds, according to the state Department of Natural Resources.
There also are fire restrictions at numerous state parks, said Sandy Mealing, spokeswoman for State Parks and Recreation.
“They change every day and vary widely. I would advise people to check in at the parks upon their arrival, because things change all the time,” Mealing said.
Here are some reminders from Washington Trails Association and Gifford Pinchot National Forest to make sure you don’t start a wildfire.
IN THE BACKCOUNTRY
• If you’re in the backcountry, and especially during high-risk times, it’s best to avoid having a campfire altogether. Oftentimes campfires are prohibited above a certain elevation or near certain bodies of water.
• If you must have a fire, follow the Leave No Trace principles:
Make sure to check and follow all regulations. In some areas, regulations change depending on the season because of fire danger.
Use only established fire rings, keep your campfire small and never leave a fire unattended.
Use small pieces of wood gathered only from the ground and never break branches or cut down trees for a campfire.
After a campfire is completely out and cool to touch, and after all the wood has turned to coal, scatter the cool ashes.
• Make sure a campfire is allowed. Check to see if there is a burn ban in your county.
• Find a shady spot away from dry logs, branches, bushes, needles or leaves.
• Make sure there are no overhanging tree branches near the fire.
• Use existing fire rings where it is safe to do so. Don’t build fire rings in roads.
• Keep campfire rings small, and use wood no bigger than the ring.
• Never leave a campfire unattended.
• When leaving, make sure your fire is dead out. Very carefully feel all sticks and charred remains. Feel the coals and ashes. Make sure no roots are smoldering.
• Drown the campfire with water, and stir charred material.
• If it’s too hot to touch, it’s too hot to leave.