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Stagecoach Fire prompts campfire safety warning

Published On: Jul 24 2013 08:19:30 PM CDT   Updated On: Jul 25 2013 04:52:03 PM CDT

Unattended or abandoned campfires have been one of the biggest causes this year of fires in Central Oregon. If you're going camping and plan on having a fire, there are some things you need to know.

BEND, Ore. -

For many people, it's hard to imagine camping without building a fire.

"We roast marshmallows and we make s'mores," a young camper said,

"It's part of the atmosphere," said another camping fan.
But if you're not careful, campfires left to smolder can re-ignite and spread -- sparking dangerous wildfires.

"Some people leave them and don't even try to put them out. Others will pour maybe a bottle of water on it and consider that good," said Heather Fisher, a fire prevention technician with Deschutes National Forest.

9 out of 10 wildfires nationwide are human caused. Abandoned and unattended campfires have become one of the biggest concerns for firefighters in Central Oregon.

"A fire that was caused by a careless act of not putting out your campfire is a fire that can be prevented," Fisher said.

So when you're ready to put it out, pour water all over the fire then stir the area with a shovel, pour water over it again and stir.

Pour, stir and repeat until everything is wet and cold to touch. If it's too hot to touch, it's too hot to leave.

"If you're not going to touch your campfire because it's too hot, then you're campfire is not out," Fisher said.

And if you're caught leaving a fire burning or smoldering, you can be fined up to $500 or face jail time.

"We just want people to put out their campfire, but there are consequences to being irresponsible," Fisher said. "We want people to have fun in the forest but we also want the forest to be there the next time they come visit."

If you're camping this weekend in a designated campsite, campfires are allowed. Private lands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry have some restrictions, though federal lands are not under campfire restrictions at this time, though they might be added soon as the fire danger rises.

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