Think your campfire is out? Think again. | High Sierra Topix  

Think your campfire is out? Think again.

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Think your campfire is out? Think again.

Postby oleander » Mon Aug 22, 2016 6:32 pm

Hey, here's a subforum called "The Campfire" that I suppose is a good place to put this post.

On August 13, camped at Pinto Lake and about to leave for the climb to Blackrock Pass, we discovered a smoldering ground fire that had spread from someone's (very lame) firepit to a wide circle maybe 12 feet in diameter. There were no open flames, but the duff had mostly been incinerated to ash, and smoke was smoldering around the edges as the fire slowly spread. One edge of the fire had practically reached a stand of trees.

It took two of us more than an hour to put the fire out. The creek was only a 60-second walk away, and we had plenty of implements for water-carrying duties (a large bear canister and some pots), but...You have no idea just how DEEP these ground fires can get till you have been pouring and stirring, pouring and stirring over and over till your shoulders ache. They say ground fires can go deep and travel for days before re-igniting in a completely different location. After this experience, it is only too easy to picture exactly that scenario.

We did report it to the SEKI. Did not hear back regarding any follow-up.

Anyone have a good website resource for campfire safety and firepit construction in a backcountry environment? I am the last person who wants to encourage people to build more firepits, but if they're going to build a fire anyway, then I'd rather see it done well. As a for-instance, you don't place your intended fire near a bunch of tree roots! And pour water over your fire till the soil feels good and COLD to the touch. Warm to the touch means there is still something burnin' under there.

- Elizabeth



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Re: Think your campfire is out? Think again.

Postby rlown » Mon Aug 22, 2016 7:16 pm

This happens even at home :) I have those silly lights that shine on the trees. I came home and my wife shouts "fire!".. I'm carrying in groceries at the time, and it's the same type of fire you speak of.. smoldering under the redwood bark towards the bush.. Now nicknamed the "burning bush." She grabs the hose to spray it, and I say, wait, you don't want to do that if it's an electrical fire. After determining it was a duff or peat burn, I let her have at it. Amazing how little it takes to start a fire..

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Re: Think your campfire is out? Think again.

Postby AlmostThere » Mon Aug 22, 2016 7:57 pm

We had the exact experience about five minutes' walk from the Maxson trailhead at the start of our week long adventure last week - saw some smoke, went over there, and there's a pile of rocks, covering a pile of trash, covering a pile of coals, surrounded by a ring of charred duff. The ground was hot to the touch.

I sure wish we could get paid for the couple of hours of bringing water up from the creek nearby, digging, stirring, etc. Even more, I wish morons would stop pretending they are exempt from the rules....
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Re: Think your campfire is out? Think again.

Postby robow8 » Mon Aug 22, 2016 8:43 pm

I was in Cedar grove a couple of weeks ago chatting with a ranger, and he called another ranger on the radio. Other ranger said he was at Junction meadow putting out someone's campfire.
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Re: Think your campfire is out? Think again.

Postby Jimr » Mon Aug 22, 2016 10:31 pm

Makes you wonder whether an entry permit should automatically be your campfire permit as well. Just thinking off the top of my head (dangerous at times), it would seem that a good approach would be to require a Californina Campfire permit be acquired for the first three times, then after you have successfully received three campfire permits, you're next one is lifetime. But, that would require funds and competency. Something I fear our state guvment sorely lacks.
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Re: Think your campfire is out? Think again.

Postby Shawn » Tue Aug 23, 2016 1:17 am

Seems I've posted this before, but came across the same situation hiking up Sphinx Creek about ten years ago. Spent some to extinguish the fire and fully clean up the area.

fire1.jpg

fire2.jpg
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Re: Think your campfire is out? Think again.

Postby maverick » Tue Aug 23, 2016 9:42 am

HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: Think your campfire is out? Think again.

Postby AlmostThere » Tue Aug 23, 2016 10:39 am

maverick wrote:http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/okawen/alerts-notices/?cid=fsbdev3_053601


I'll be finished burning those instructions into a big wooden paddle by tonight. So I can sit around at trailheads with it, waiting to hammer them into the brains of the idiots who ignore them.
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Re: Think your campfire is out? Think again.

Postby Jimr » Tue Aug 23, 2016 11:51 am

Maybe carve it backward and paddle it into their behind.
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Re: Think your campfire is out? Think again.

Postby giantbrookie » Wed Aug 24, 2016 12:48 pm

This reminds me that the post on the Emigrant clean up showed photos of the clean up of at least one fire pit where it appears that fire burned well into the duff outside of the ring.
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html
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Re: Think your campfire is out? Think again.

Postby sambieni » Wed Aug 24, 2016 2:10 pm

At Merced Lake in Yosemite came across fire in our site that seemed slightly warm and had fair bit of trash that looks like they tried burning out, but stopped about halfway thru. Yay - forest fires and bears oh my!
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