Abandoned campfires on the Bridger-Teton National Forest is causing concern, especially in the warmer, and drier weather that the Forest is already experiencing this month. “People just aren’t thinking of fire safety at this time of year. It’s like folks assume because it’s spring they don’t need to worry about putting out their campfires.” says Bridger-Teton National Forest Public Affairs Officer Mary Cernicek. “It is early but it only takes a couple of days of warm dry weather to dry things out.” As of June 2, 2021 there have been 21 abandoned campfires- most on the Bridger-Teton National Forest. Comparatively to 2020, there were 7 abandoned fires by the same date that year, and in 2019, by June 2, there were 3.
Of the abandoned campfires discovered, some have been left smoldering, and too hot to touch, while others had escaped its fire ring. Fire personnel are routinely dispatched to extinguish the fires that have been reported, or smoke sightings reported, while others are discovered by patrollers. “Individuals found responsible could be cited with violation notices and possibly fined,” said Cernicek. Persons found responsible for starting a fire that escapes, resulting in a wildfire may be held responsible for the cost of putting it out. “All too often people don’t intend to start wildfires, yet they leave campfires unattended or don’t completely put them out. These campfires have the potential to become disastrous,” says Cernicek. The reports of unattended campfires have Fire Managers reiterating a fire safety message for all Forest users. Although an area may appear green, the danger for fire still exists. “Even though it looks green, the drought conditions have left the dead materials and trees susceptible to fire and we still need to be careful with campfires on the Forest” said Cernicek. “We just want to remind visitors to the Bridger-Teton to build their campfires in a safe spot, not to leave them unattended, and to extinguish them completely before leaving the area,” she said. Always keep a bucket of water and a shovel nearby. When putting a campfire out, drown it with water, stir with a shovel, and never leave a fire until it is cold to the touch. To report an abandoned campfire or wildfire call Teton Interagency Dispatch at 307-739-3630 or 911.