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Officials report 300% increase in fires inside national forest since last year, and here’s why

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A U.S. Forest Service helicopter fighting a fire inside Bridger-Teton National Forest last month. | Facebook

The following is a news release from Bridger-Teton National Forest.

JACKSON HOLE, Wyoming – Abandoned campfires on the Bridger-Teton National Forest are causing concern, especially in the warmer and drier weather that the Forest is already experiencing this month.

“People just aren’t thinking of fire safety at this time of year. It’s like folks assume because it’s spring they don’t need to worry about putting out their campfires,” says Forest Public Affairs Officer Mary Cernicek. “It is early but it only takes a couple of days of warm, dry weather to dry things out.”

As of June 2, there have been 21 abandoned campfires, most of which have occurred on the Bridger-Teton National Forest. Compared to 2020, there were seven abandoned fires by the same date that year. In 2019, there were three.

Of the abandoned campfires discovered, some have been left smoldering and too hot to touch, while others had escaped its fire ring.

Fire personnel are routinely dispatched to extinguish the fires or smoke sightings that have been reported while others are discovered by patrollers.

“Individuals found responsible could be cited with violation notices and possibly fined,” said Cernicek.

Persons found responsible for starting a fire that escapes, resulting in a wildfire may be held responsible for the cost of putting it out.

“All too often people don’t intend to start wildfires, yet they leave campfires unattended or don’t completely put them out. These campfires have the potential to become disastrous,” says Cernicek.

The reports of unattended campfires have fire managers reiterating a fire safety message for all Forest users. Although an area may appear green, the danger for fire still exists.

“Even though it looks green, the drought conditions have left the dead materials and trees susceptible to fire and we still need to be careful with campfires on the Forest,” said Cernicek. “We just want to remind visitors to Bridger-Teton to build their campfires in a safe spot, not to leave them unattended and to extinguish them completely before leaving the area.”

Always keep a bucket of water and a shovel nearby. When putting a campfire out, drown it with water, stir with a shovel and never leave a fire until it is cold to the touch.

To report an abandoned campfire or wildfire, call Teton Interagency Dispatch at (307) 739-3630 or 911.

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