White River forest eases fire ban
The White River National Forest lowered its fire ban to Stage I effective at noon Friday. Campfires are now allowed in developed campgrounds and picnic areas. Other fire ban restrictions remain in place.A Stage I ban prohibits building, maintaining, attending or using a fire, campfire, charcoal broiler or a coal or wood stove anywhere except in a Forest Service developed camp- or picnic ground.Use of petroleum-fueled stoves, lanterns or heating devices is allowed outside of campgrounds providing such devices meet the fire underwriters specifications for safety. Wood stoves that have a spark arrester, often called sheepherder stoves, are also allowed.Smoking is only allowed within an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site or while stopped in an area barren or cleared of all flammable material at least three feet in diameter.Welding is also restricted, and allowed only by permit.The Forest Service encourages everyone to think safety first. When in doubt, don’t light that match, said spokesman Vinnie Pickard.Violations are punishable by a fine and could lead to prison. More importantly, no one wants to be responsible for a wildfire, he said. “Twenty-one wildland firefighters across the nation died this year, and more than 10,000 square miles have burned. If people forget how dry the woods are, those totals could rise. The drought is not over, and historically one of every four wildfires in this region has started after Sept. 1,” noted acting forest supervisor Steve Deitemeyer. Hunters, firewood gatherers and campers will be in the forest this fall. Nationwide, 85 percent of all wildfires are human-caused. Unattended or abandoned campfires cause many of those wildfires.Be careful with gas lanterns, gas stoves and anything that can be a source of ignition for a wildfire, Pickard said.More fire safety precautions include:-Park only over bare ground or pavement. Hot engines start fires when vehicles are parked over dry grass.-Keep cigarette butts in the car. Embers that might go out in normal years can start a fire in the unprecedented dry conditions this year.-Do not dump ashes or charcoal where they might start a fire. Douse them completely with water before disposing of them.-Do not use camp stoves inside a tent. The most cautious camper can knock over a stove. That runs the risk of starting a major fire, and losing your life.”We want people to continue to enjoy public lands, just remember to be safe,” added Deitemeyer. “And, if you do spot a fire, call 911.”
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