How NOT to build a campfire

Happened upon this a week ago, and it is a great example of what NOT to do when building a campfire. Note the nearby tall, dry, grasses? At least it is not under a tree or in the bushes. I have examples of those, too, which I will add when possible.

Here’s another one, in the grasses, too close to the bushes.

And just to give my readers an idea about the fuel load and fuel ladders here, here are some photos I took 2 days before the Plaskett Fire:

And a closer look:


12 thoughts on “How NOT to build a campfire

  1. That is terrifying! In the summer months we have total fire ban days (when you are not allowed to light a fire in the open or even use machinery that might spark) but in most of our national parks the ban applies for the whole fire season.

  2. It’s too bad that people who build fires like this have no common sense and that you have images like this to post. And that you even have to explain it in hopes that at least if one person who didn’t know — gets it! Then I suppose it’s worth it. I’m left shaking my head.

  3. We encountered the same kind of fire ring during our fire training on Willow Creek Road today. I try to disassemble them and hide the ring. If its there, it makes others think it is ok. Some people are just plain DUMB.

  4. To me, it seems common sense that fires in areas like this are not to be started. The lack of common sense in the human race is mind boggling

  5. I know we’re all busy and can’t be everywhere (which is true of the USFS as well) but maybe we locals can weed eat around these places once the fire rings are dismantled (checking to make sure the rocks are COLD) and carry jugs of h20 to douse still warm rings when we come across them. It’s proactive and easier than putting out a forest fire and just one more protection we have.

  6. And, then, up here in Idaho, we had some clueless neighbors toss all their slash, paper plates and garbage, and dry pine needles into a bonfire in their yard (which is open forest), supposedly to deter mosquitoes and not have to dispose of the stuff properly. Right above were Ponderosa (call it dry) branches, and the flames were licking at them. A few years ago, a similar incident DOWN CANYON from us almost started a crown fire in the 200 foot Doug firs and pines we have on this mountain. fortunately, SiTPA (State Timber Protection Agency had a little word with them, after getting the mess under control. We are in a backwoods area, and there is no way out if a blaze gets going below us! Several years ago, TWO MILLION acres burned in the River of No Return Wilderness (and beyond), just east of us. In Big Sur, the terrifying possibilities are no different. We had three devastating fires in Big Sur just a couple years ago. Don’t they get a clue???

  7. Yes , Kate , did you know that Judith Goodman used to organize a summer, sundown , campfire beach patrol watch , for the Pfeiffer Beach, area, and watershed ?

    So you ask , just why did not the USFS do this, for us , as those public campers were camped on the USFS property , not on private property ?

    Well the USFS said they were underfunded, and could not police their property !

    Bad Management , I would Say !

    CPOA found that during the fire season the “Public Properties” , State and Federal , were populated by visiters, on average of 20 persons per acre , where as private properties, were inhabited by only ONE PERSON , per 20 , acres ,,,,, So are we Not Stewards of the Land , even better than Public Owned Lands ??? Unqualitively , private land owners , were , or are , just by the numbers , alone , better stewards , of Big Sur , Lands ! Go Figure , All those environmentalists out there ???


  8. Hi Kate,

    All I can say is “sigh.” All the Forest Service people I know (both employees and volunteers) do what they can to educate people NOT to do this and zealously dismantle such things when they are found … but the Forest Service just doesn’t enough people keep up. Thanks to everyone who pitches in, and thank you for publishing these photos.

    Mike Heard

  9. ever notice how people practice magical thinking with fires? they think surrounding a fire with rocks will control the magic and keep the fire demon under control. and leaving a fire ring suggests to the next dude that it is a fine safe place to build a fire.

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