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Campfire safety tips as warm weather arrives in Michigan

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Posted at 10:34 AM, May 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-21 10:34:18-04

CADILLAC, Mich. — Huron-Manistee National Forests is reminding Michiganders visiting forests to drown, stir and feel their campfire before leaving the fire ring.

The request comes amid recent warming and drying trends impacting the Great Lakes region, according to a news release Friday.

“People are starting to get back to camping and recreating on the forest,” said Debra-Ann Brabazon, forest fire prevention and mitigation specialist. “Camping and campfires are just part of the upcoming Memorial Day weekend. With fire danger conditions above High at this time, vigilance is needed when having a campfire.”

Campers can check out current fire danger levels on the Great Lakes Fires and Fuels website.

Brabazon offered the following tips for those who choose to have a campfire:

  • Clear an area up to 10 feet in diameter around the fire circle to remove any flammable materials. Be sure that overhead leaves or limbs have clearance and won’t ignite from the campfire’s convective heat.
  • Check for roots in the fire circle as fire can travel underground through dead root systems before reaching the surface and igniting a wildfire.
  • Keep your fire small, not tall, reflecting the intent of the activity. Cooking and warming fires do not need to be big, for example.
  • Avoid using flammable liquids, like gasoline, to start a fire. Invisible fumes travel along the ground and can be ignited, carrying fire into the wildland.
  • Don’t burn litter or other trash in the fire pit, as it can create toxic fumes and make people sick.
  • Cool your coals. Allow the fire to burn down to white ash and stir the coals to release trapped heat. Popping, crackling and hissing indicate the fire is still hot.

“It’s important to know that if you decide to go to bed, leave your campsite or even ask a kid to watch your campfire, it is considered unattended,” Brabazon added. “Unattended campfires risk wildfires. Remember, if it is too hot to touch, it is too hot to leave.”