State Fire Marshal urges campers to exercise caution with campfires

The Washington State Fire Marshal’s Office is urging any residents who enjoy Washington State parks and open areas this year to use extra caution when camping. 

In a release, the office says that  more than 1,800 wildfires were reported in Washington State in 2021, burning over 674,000 acres according to the Northwest Coordination Center (NWCC). 

The National Interagency Fire Center along with the National Weather Service forecasts both below average precipitation and above average temperatures for Washington State this year with warmer and dryer conditions increasing throughout the spring and summer. 

Annually, 85% of all wildfires are human-caused and each year escaped campfires are the leading basis of this cause. 

Campers are urged to take precautions before, during, and after any intended use of campfires. 

  • Before setting up a campfire check with your local fire official to make sure it is allowed.
  • If allowed, campfires need to be at least 25 feet (8 meters) away from any structure and anything that may burn.
  • Clear away dry leaves, sticks, overhanging low branches, and shrubs within at least 10 feet (3 meters) of the campfire.
  • Avoid burning on windy and dry days as it is easier for open burning to spread out of control when it is windy or dry.
  • Attend campfires at all times and supervise children and pets while the campfire is burning. It is a good idea to make a 3-foot “kid-free-zone” around the campfire.
  • Keep campfires small, as this makes them easier to control.
  • Never use gasoline or other flammable and combustible liquids.
  • Always have a bucket of water, or a shovel with dirt or sand nearby to put out the fire. Make sure to completely extinguish the fire before leaving the site. Apply water to all coals or remaining flames. Stir with a stick and pour on more water. Observe that there is no heat, glow, or flame remaining.
  • If your clothes catch on fire, stop, drop, and roll. Stop, drop to the ground, and cover your face with your hands. Roll back and forth until the fire is out.
  • Treat any burns right away. Cool the burn with cold water for 3-5 minutes and then cover with a clean, dry cloth. Make sure to get medical help if needed.