COLORADO SPRINGS — As Colorado continues to handle a drought, fire experts are expecting fire restrictions over the next several months.
And while campfires are a big part of the camping experience, fire restrictions can limit or prevent campers from having a campfire. However, there is an alternative.
A propane fueled campfire with an on “on and off” switch can be used during stage 1 and stage 2 fire restrictions issued by the U.S. Forest Service Forest.
“This is an alternative to a campfire. You can have these during stage 1 and stage 2 fire restrictions with the U.S. Forest Service. It does have an “on and off switch.” And that is the important piece about being able to have this during fire restrictions because you can turn that campfire off in a matter seconds," said Dawn Sanchez, a fire prevention technician for the U.S. Forest Service.
It’s important to know that the U.S. Forest Service doesn’t want to “ruin your camping experience” by placing fire bans. These fire bans are put into place as necessary safety precautions.
Sanchez has a lot of insight on fire prevention. She says over her years as a fire expert, she has seen her fair share of abandoned campfires.
According to the U.S. National Park Service, 85% of wildland fires are caused by humans.
Given this information, it’s important for campers to check and see if there’s any fire restrictions taking place on their designated campsites, before starting a campfire.
Since Coloradans tend to travel on weekends to explore the scenery, there are several websites that help inform campers of fire danger.
Sanchez recommends residents use the U.S. Forest Service Interactive Fire Restrictions Map so you “know before you go.”
It is also strongly recommended that campers use the Colorado Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management Site to see the current fire bans and danger.
Although fire restrictions in your area can determine if you're allowed to have a campfire, there is one exception to the campfire ban.
“If we do go into stage 1 fire restrictions with the U.S. Forest Service, here locally, you can have campfires in what we call a “developed campsite,” and those are sites where we have a campfire ring established. It’s a metal grate. One of those things we like to mention for those campsites is you pay a fee to be there. That fee actually pays for a host to be at those camping areas and patrol those areas,” said Sanchez.
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