The U.S. Forest Service is fighting two forest fires that broke out over the weekend in the Coconino National Forest near Flagstaff.
The 6-acre Secret Fire, in the Red Rock-Secret Mountain Wilderness, was 70 percent contained as of this morning, according to the Arizona Emergency Information Network. The 1.5-acre Boulder Fire, on Mount Elden, remains zero percent contained, the network said.
While we don’t know what caused either fire, it’s a fact that improperly extinguished campfires have led to many devastating wildfires in Arizona — including the Wallow Fire, which burned more than 530,000 acres in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests in 2011. With that in mind, let’s revisit the Forest Service’s guidelines for putting a campfire “dead out”:
- Allow wood to burn completely to ash.
- Pour water over the fire, dousing all embers.
- Stir campfire ashes and embers with a shovel.
- Scrape sticks and logs to remove any embers.
- Stir the ash pile to ensure that it is wet and cold to the touch.
- If you don’t have water, use dirt, and mix it with embers until the pile is cool. Don’t simply bury the fire; it might smolder and catch roots ablaze.
Proper campfire management is a central tenet of the Leave No Trace philosophy. You can learn more about Leave No Trace in our upcoming June issue.
Recent drought has left most of Arizona a tinderbox and more prone to wildfires than usual. As we get more information on these or other wildfires, we’ll pass it along.