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Letter to the Editor: Burning Questions About Fire Safety

Outdoor America 2019 Issue 2
Big game hunting_coffee by campfire in Snowcrest Mountains MT. CreditL Lisa Ballard

I appreciated the article “Mentoring Youth Hunters Outside Your Own Family” by Lisa Ballard in Outdoor America (2019 Issue 1). I did notice, however, a potentially dangerous depiction of a campfire.

The area around fires, no matter the size, should be clear of all flammable debris and not lit in any substantial wind.

I have worked at numerous wildfires in the western United States, and those not caused by lightning or arson were usually caused by campfires.

Ralph LaPlant, IWLA member and retired conservation officer Holyoke, Minnesota

Author’s Response:
Thanks for your comments. Fire safety is a critical part of any outdoor activity. In this case, a picture does not tell the whole story. There were a couple inches of snow that morning that melted by the evening, so the ground where the two hunters sat was saturated with water.

As far as best practices, there are two sides to clearing a large spot around the fire down to the dirt: it leaves a bigger scar on the ground, but it also gives a buffer between the fire and its surroundings.

The most important practices are:

  • Do not make a fire if conditions are dry or windy.
  • Watch the fire closely at all times.
  • Only light a small fire.
  • Make sure the fire is completely out when you depart. Lisa Ballard