Abandoned campfires increase danger of wildfires

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(3TV/CBS 5) -

The fall season brings many hikers, hunters and campers to the state's national forests. So officials with the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest want to remind visitors to be careful with fire, especially since we have experienced an unusually dry and warm fall.

This week alone there have been numerous abandoned campfires and some have spread to become multiple-acre wildfires. 

With nighttime temperatures dipping to near or below freezing, many visitors start a warming or cooking fire.

Do not attempt to have a fire on high wind days because wind can quickly spread a fire by blowing and swirling ash and debris, making it very hard to control. Make sure you are far enough away from overhanging branches, rotten stumps, logs and steep slopes where debris could roll downhill. Clear a 10-foot-diameter area around your campfire spot by removing leaves, pine needles, pine cones, grass and anything that will burn down to the dirt, and then build up a small ring of rocks to create a barrier. 

Once your fire is lit, never leave it unattended. Be sure to have water and a shovel close by at all times. When you’re done with your fire, drown it with lots of water. Use a shovel to stir the ashes and water, making sure all ashes are mixed in. If you feel the heat when holding your bare hands just over the ashes, then it’s still too hot! If you feel heat pour more water into your ring and stir it again.

Once you're confident that your fire is cold and you can’t feel any more heat, disassemble your ring. Only scatter the rocks when you are confident they are also cold. Remember the rule that if it’s too hot to touch, it’s too hot to leave.”

If you have any question, contact the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests at 928-333-6280 or visit the ASNFs website: www.fs.usda.gov/asnf 

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