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Forest Service warning campers not to leave fires unattended

Posted at 6:22 PM, Jul 08, 2019

COLORADO — As many Coloradans and visitors to the state make their way to the mountains to camp, there's an ongoing concern for U.S. Forest Service Workers- unattended campfires.

"I don't know what the problem is, but they're not coming prepared or they're just not coming with the wrong attitude," Ralph Ballah, a Fire Specialist with the Pike San Isabel National Forest said.

On Sunday, local Forest Service workers put out about 20 unattended campfires from campers over the holiday weekend, but this isn't an uncommon problem.

"There were probably more reported after everyone gets through the weekend. reports we've had up to 32 and up to 40 on some weekends before, in just one weekend," Ballah said.

In a video posted on its social media, the Pike San Isabel National Forest wanted to give a reminder to anyone camping on Forest Service land to make sure the fire is completely out.

Ballah says the best way to do this is to bring plenty of water to put the fire out, stir it after, and to touch the fire to make sure it's completely cool.

"If you can't touch it, then it's definitely putting out heat," said Ballah.

in 2018, Colorado lawmakers voted to increase punishments for anyone leaving a campfire unattended. However, on Forest Service land- the law doesn't apply, still campers can face a $200 fine for leaving a campfire behind.

With the new law, Colorado Parks and Wildlife says it doesn't happen that frequently- especially with the regulation and setup of the campsites in local parks.

The Forest Service says these fires only happen in dispersed camping sites, where it's not a designated campground.

"That's been our number one issue, abandoned campfires has always been our number one human caused problem," Ballah said.