Every year for as long as I can remember California has had devastating forrest fires. Often we find after the fact that they were man made. Those tragic accidental fires can be avoided. The team here at Goose Gear passionately believe that as we educate ourselves on the dangers of fire we can all be more responsible while enjoying the beauty of the outdoors.
There are an average of 500 to 1000 trees per acre here in our forests, which is substantially higher than in the past. That means the risk of forrest fire is greater than ever. As we begin to factor in drought, insect infestations, and lack of maintained property cleared for forest fires specifically, we now can start to see the writing on the wall.
Unnatural and accidental forest fires have wiped out entire cities over the past few seasons, and the aftermath is heartbreaking. Families, animals, property, all destroyed unnecessarily.
So, what can we do? Here are a few practices that we can easily set in place that will have a massive effect on decreasing the risk of starting a forest fire. We always start with following all state and federal rules and guidelines on having a fire when we are setting up camp for the night. For example, California requires a fire permit for campfires. Go get one, it's an easy way to stay safe and compliment. From there, it is always good to pick a nice clear spot, slightly distanced for your tent, gear, and vehicle. If there isn’t an obvious spot available, create one by clearing a space free from anything that can accidentally ignite.
Use a fire pit or ring. Most marked camp sites have designated fire pits, use them. If there isn't one available, bring your own. With the popularity of overloading, there are many great portable pits to choose from. Find the best one for your type of adventure. Worst case scenario, you can dig a shallow hole, clear it, and around it, surround it by rocks when possible, and use that for your fire pit. Of course that only applies when legally accepted.
Whenever possible bring your own wood. For the most part, you know how hot and how long most bundled wood burns, so there aren’t any surprises when lighting and burning happens. Another thing to consider is not disturbing the wildlife as it may rely on that stuff you consider waste and burnable.
Lastly, when extinguishing your fire, make sure it is all the way out before leaving it, even for the night. The golden rule is, if you can’t touch…you can’t leave it. That usually requires a bit of effort, but well worth it for the sake of properly putting out your fire. If you have water, use it. If you don’t have water, don’t use other liquids. Better safe than sorry on that one. After you have used water on the fire, you can bury what’s left. Remember, if you don’t have water, just bury the coals, spread them around in the pit until they are out, that should do the trick. Just make sure everything is fully out before you leave.
Doing our part to prevent forest fires doesn’t have to be a big deal. If we all simply be responsible with our own fires we will be more than effective in chipping away at the problem of man made forest fires. All that's left now is to grab some friends, load up the rigs, and go camping!
Photos by Kevin Warn