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23 Unattended Campfires Found in Natl. Forest

August 12, 2013 by   - () Leave a Comment

This map from the U.S.D.A. Forest Service shows active wildfires in the U.S. The Elk Complex and Pony fires in Idaho are represented by Nos. 24 and 26, respectively.

The following is a press release from the Bitterroot National Forest in Idaho:

Firefighters have discovered 23 illegal, abandoned, or escaped campfires burning on the Bitterroot National Forest in just the last seven days. Two of the fires were discovered Sunday morning (Aug. 11) off Skalkaho Highway near Gird Point Lookout and Railroad Creek, east of Hamilton. Both fires had escaped their makeshift rings and if crews had not been close by, could have quickly and easily spread to nearby grass and trees.

The Forest Service is asking for the public’s help in stopping this growing problem. It’s a major concern as fire crews are spending their time responding to and putting out abandoned campfires, which could delay responses to new wildfires that start.

More than half of the abandoned campfires were discovered outside designated/approved campgrounds, where fires are currently prohibited under Stage 1 Restrictions. See below for more details including potential penalties for this activity.

Fire Restrictions: Stage 1 fire restrictions went into effect on August 1st on the Bitterroot National Forest. Campfires are allowed only within a designated campground or recreation site which contains a Forest-provided fire ring. For a list of all designated campgrounds and recreation sites, visit the Forest website at www.fs.usda.gov/bitterroot. Individuals who violate these restrictions could face fines of up to $5,000 and be held liable for all suppression costs and damages for starting a fire.

Current Fire Danger: The Bitterroot National Forest fire danger is currently ‘very high.’ Forest officials are asking the public to be extremely careful when camping and to remember that it’s your job and responsibility to properly maintain and extinguish all campfires.

Smoke & Haze: The smoke and haze that drifted into the Bitterroot Valley overnight is coming from the Pony Complex and Elk fires burning in Idaho. Combined, the two fires have grown to nearly 200,000 acres.

 

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