Runaway campfire catches surrounding trees, brush on fire
Small blaze occurred at a site near Mirror Lake Highway
August 29, 2017
An ill-advised campfire that had moved outside of a makeshift fire ring prompted a response from the South Summit Fire Protection District over the weekend.
At 6:15 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 26, firefighters responded to reports of a small fire near mile marker 21 on the Mirror Lake Highway (State Road 150), according to Scott Anderson, with the South Summit Fire District. The suspects had left the area prior to emergency responders' arrival.
Anderson said the fire was "mostly smoldering and pretty well contained" when crews arrived. It covered an area about 20 feet wide and 15 feet long. Crews remained on scene for about an hour.
"The campfire was in a primitive campground that is not maintained by the U.S. Forest Service and they were building a fire in an area that had not had a fire there before. They took it upon themselves to do what they are not to do. Simply put, a bunch of rocks in a circle does not make it a fire pit," Anderson said. "They thought they had put the campfire out, but the accumulation of pine needles, roots and leaves continued burning all through that area and spread to the surrounding trees."
Anderson emphasized campfires must be placed in an improved area with dirt as the base and extinguished properly. When people make their own fire pit, he said, they don't often see the roots under the ground that can still ignite from the hot coals or embers.
"These people went about 20 feet away from where a previous fire pit had been to build their own and now we have two big holes up there and dead trees," Anderson said. "Dumping a bunch of water is not adequate for putting out a fire. They have to be cool to the touch and not just in the middle where you dumped the bucket. You have to stir it up and dig it up with a shovel."
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