Small campfires are OK during burn permit suspension but use caution

Wildland fire technicians from Mat-Su Area Forestry responded to King Mountain State Recreation Site near Sutton on Wednesday and discovered five abandoned campfires that were still burning or smoldering. Fortunately, none of the campfires escaped to start a wildfire and our technicians were able to quickly extinguish them.

While campfires less than 3 feet in diameter with flame lengths no more than 2 feet are still allowed during the Alaska Division of Forestry’s current burn permit suspension for all of the state except Southeast, people are reminded that campfires must be attended at all times and need to be completely extinguished before leaving. This means drowning them with water and stirring them repeatedly until they are cold to the touch.

Given the extremely dry, pre-greenup conditions around much of the state right now, people are advised against burning a campfire unless it is absolutely necessary. With the snow melted, the dead, dry grass that is now exposed is extremely susceptible to any kind of ignition source. All it takes is one spark to ignite the grass and fire will spread quickly in the dry conditions, especially if there is any kind of wind.

Here are some tips on how to have a safe campfire:
• Check to make sure campfires are allowed in the area you intend to have one.

• Keep campfires small and manageable.
• Do not start campfires under overhanging branches or near brush.
• Do not burn a campfire on windy days.
• If you are not in a campground with designated fire pits, build a rock ring around the campfire to prevent it from escaping.
• Clear the area around the campfire down to dirt and remove anything that could catch fire.
• Stack wood upwind and away from the fire.
• Never leave a campfire unattended: an adult should supervise the campfire at all times.
• Keep a bucket of water and shovel/tool nearby.
• Burn only wood in the fire.
• Do not pull burning sticks out of the fire.
• When it’s time to extinguish the fire, dump water on the fire and stir with a tool or stick, then dump more water on it until it’s cold to the touch. If it’s too hot to touch, it’s too hot to leave.

For more information on how to pick a campfire spot, how to prepare a campfire pit, how to build a campfire and how to maintain and extinguish a campfire, go to

Categories: AK Fire Info

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