Could you use a fire-safety reminder?

April 24, 2012 by  

YAKIMA, Wash. — It happens every year. A group of people gather around a campfire — whether at a family get-together, a company picnic or a simple camping outing — and enjoy themselves. Then they either go to bed or, worse, drive back to civilization without quite making sure the fire is dead out.

And, of course, it’s not.

A bit of wind kicks up an ember or three. A half-burned stick on the edge of the fire pit sparks up again. A little fire grows into a bigger one, and becomes the latest in the seemingly endless line of wildfires caused by poorly tended or improperly extinguished campfires.

Not surprisingly, it’s Wildfire Awareness Week. Or was, or will soon be, depending on where you live and on what state or federal land management agency’s land you recreate. (I did an online search. Wildfire Awareness Week was last week in one state, it’s next week in another and, with Washington State public lands, we’re in the middle of what is actually a 16-day, April 21-May 6 “wildfire awareness week.”)

Maybe we here in Washington need the extra time to get it straight, because clearly some of us haven’t quite gotten the message. (A small fire that broke out in the Nasty Creek area was believed to have started from an unattended campfire. Same ol’, same ol’.)

So if you happen to be recreating out in the Ahtanum State Forest this weekend, you can check out the Department of Natural Resources’ wildfire-awareness and campfire-clean-out event from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday at the Ahtanum Campground.

Smokey Bear will be present, so bring the kids. We’re marginally certain they won’t be able to tell the difference between a bear and a guy in a bear suit and, besides, the original Smokey wasn’t much of a public speaker anyway. Besides, if the kids can learn how important it is to put campfires dead out, maybe they can help their forgetful elders remember to do the same.

Volunteer crews will also be in the Ahtanum cleaning out designated fire pits in the area in preparation for the upcoming busy camping season.

- Scott Sandsberry

Filed under Blogs, Out There, Outdoors

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