NewsIdaho Back Roads


Preventing human-caused wildfires; put out your campfire completely

Posted at 4:39 PM, Jun 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-21 19:10:02-04

IDAHO — According to the National Interagency Fire Center, 80 percent of all wildfires in the U.S. are human-caused. As fire season is upon us, putting out your campfire completely is one of the main ways you can prevent human-caused wildfires.

The Boise National Forest reported having to put out 400 campfires that were left burning last year.

“As a part of my job it is finding those fires and putting them out, and somedays you can get 12 fires that you find," Kailie Leggett said. "To see all of our numbers put together is unfortunate, but it was by no means shocking. It is preventable and it does protect our forests and also our resources on the ground too."

With dry and hot conditions already spanning across much of Idaho, The Boise National Forest is concerned about more campfires being left.

“It is important to put your campfire out anytime it is going to be unattended including when you go to sleep for the night," Leggett said.

Putting out your campfire starts before you even hit the road to go camping.

“It means that you have the proper things that you are going to need such as a shovel, either water or something to catch water with, and making sure you are prepared to put it out,” Leggett said.

Taking the extra few minutes to make sure your campfire is completely out can save a ton of destruction. Here's the steps Leggett said you should take:

  1. Make sure your fire is cold to the touch, and that is just taking the back of your hand and placing it above the coals to see if you are picking up any heat. Please do not stick your hand in the fire.
  2. If you are by a water source or you brought water from home start by putting that on the fire.
  3. Take your shovel or something you can really mix it with and stir it all around.
  4. That won’t be enough.
  5. You do that first round, stir, go get more water pour that on, and keep stirring.
  6. Repeat those steps until you can place your hand above the coals and not feel any heat coming off of it

It is important to remember that it is not about what the fire looks like, it's about how it feels.

“I’ve seen fires right before my eyes that look out and that they look cold and then a gust of wind comes and it sparks right up again,” Leggett

With the concerning number of campfires left burning if you do come across one that isn't fully out, and you don't have the resources to put it out yourself, call 911 immediately.

For more information on fire safety, click here.