Prevent forest fires: 'Abandoned campfires can smolder for weeks'

ROSEBURG, Ore. - As people prepare for a holiday weekend of camping and fun in the woods, they also need to remember wildfire safety, fire officials said.

Abandoned campfires are a common issue this time of year, the Douglas Forest Protective Association said.

"Many people overlook campfire safety this time of year since we normally aren't in fire season" said Kyle Reed, a fire prevention specialist with the forest protective association. "We commonly find campfires that people have abandoned, thinking that the fire will go out by itself. What people don't realize is that these abandoned campfires can smolder for weeks before popping back to life and potentially becoming a wildfire."

Reed offered the following tips:

  • Many large landowners do not allow campfires on their property any time of year. It is your responsibility to know whose land you are on and have permission before having a camp fire.
  • Build campfires away from overhanging branches, steep slopes, rotten logs, stumps, dry grass and dead leaves.
  • Scrape away litter, duff, and any other flammable material in a 10 foot wide circle. This will keep your campfire from spreading.
  • Keep campfires small. Small campfires are safer and easier to manage.
  • Always keep water and a shovel nearby.
  • Never leave a campfire unattended. A breeze may come up while you're gone and spread the fire to nearby vegetation.
  • Before retiring to the tent or leaving the campsite, be sure and put the campfire out. To do so, drown the fire with water, stir and separate the coals, and drown with water again. If any heat or smoke remains, the fire is not 100 percent out. Continue adding water and stirring the ashes until all heat and smoke is extinguished.

For more information about campfire or other wildfire safety tips, visit