Fire Watch: Hot times ahead

Round one is over.

As the 2014 wildfire season begins, the Gorge can breathe a sigh of relief at the quick extinguishment of Dog Falls Fire, across the river west of White Salmon.

We can thank the quick actions of firefighters, along with cooler temperatures and well-timed rains – the first recorded precipitation in a month in the Hood River area.

However, anyone using campgrounds, forest trails or otherwise getting out in our natural areas must remain vigilant.

Here are a few suggestions to help ensure that your campfires will be safe during the holiday weekend and throughout the summer.

If we all do all these things, we can continue to breathe not just sighs of relief, but clear mountain air.

n Call before you go — Call your local forestry or fire district to learn if there are any current campfire restrictions.

n Select the right spot — Maintained campgrounds with established fire pits provide the safest venue for campfires – and possibly the only legal place.

n Keep your campfire small — A campfire is less likely to escape control if it is kept small. A large fire may cast hot embers long distances.

n Attend your campfire at all times — A campfire left unattended for only a few minutes can grow into a costly, damaging wildfire. Staying with your campfire from start to finish until dead out is required by state law.

n Never use gasoline or other accelerants (flammable or combustible liquids) to start or increase your campfire. n Always have water and fire tools on site — Have a shovel and a bucket of water nearby to extinguish any escaped embers. When you are ready to leave, drown ALL embers.

n Make sure it’s out — Completely extinguish your campfire before leaving. If it is too hot to touch, it is too hot to leave. n Burn ONLY wood — State regulations prohibit the open burning of any material that creates dense, toxic smoke or noxious odors.

A first-time citation carries a $110 fine. If your campfire spreads out of control, you are responsible for the cost of fire suppression. This can range from a few hundred to thousands of dollars.

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