PHOENIX -- Every summer we see wildfires rage through our state, leaving behind a path of destruction in their wake. But most of the time these fires can be prevented, and that begins with some basic knowledge about campfire safety.
We started a campfire in the garden outside the 3TV studios this morning and let it burn for about an hour and a half. Smoky the Bear was on hand to watch over the fire, as well as Andy Mandell from the Tonto National Forest. He says learning to properly put out a campfire is one of the best ways to prevent wildfires.
Clearing an open spot to make the campfire is the first step in safety. "We're looking for a fire ring," says Mandell. "All of the dirt is cleared away from the the fire so there's nothing close to the campfire that can catch on fire."
Then, make sure to mix the water with the coals and firewood to make sure the flames are completely out and not still smoldering. It's a very quick process with water, taking less than a minute.
The next thing to think about is how to dispose of your coals. "Sometime we have forest visitors who will take coals and dump them in a trash can, or outside the fire pit," says Mandell. " When they're still hot, that's what starts fires for us. We want to emphasize that we don't do that."
Instead, follow the simple rule of water, stir, repeat. Do that until the coals are completely cool.
As for fire restrictions, in the Tonto National Forest, there's no shooting unless you're on a lawful hunt. And there are no campfires allowed except in forest service-approved areas. You can find those areas listed on fs.usda.gov/tonto.