CHOOSING YOUR CAMPFIRE LOCATION
No camping trip is fully complete without a roaring fire. They are the centrepiece of most campsites and create a camping environment to trade stories, share music, cook and keep warm. In Australia, we know the havoc wildfires wreak on our bush every year. Choosing the right spot to set up your campfire to avoid it getting out of control is more important than ever.
CHECK THE RULES
If the campsite or national park you are staying in has rules against building campfires, don’t build one. There is usually a reason for this and it isn’t worth risking it, no matter how much of a seasoned camper you are. There are also usually pretty hefty fines if you get caught.
CHECK ABOVE YOU
Many campers check the prospective area but forget to check above for overhanging branches or limbs. Make sure the area is clear of overhanging brush, even if it’s too high for the flames to reach, the heat alone could cause a dry or dead branch to go up in flames, or a stray ember could drift across and start a fire.
IS THE GROUND TOO DRY
If conditions are too dry, particularly in Australia, it’s usually better to leave it. There can often be a layer of duff on the forest floor which to many people just looks like dirt. Duff is actually made up of lots of pieces of dry wood and plant material which makes perfect kindling and can set a whole area ablaze in minutes. The decomposing bits of wood and plant would only need a tiny ember or spark to ignite in dry conditions, so if it’s too dry, avoid making a fire.
Many campers build a ring of stones to enclose their fire. This is good to control it but also if you find a ring left by other campers, these are great places to locate your campfire. The ground is already charred and burnt from the previous fire and makes an ideal location to start another campfire. If you are making one, encircle the fire in stones and leave them there as an indicator to the next campers.
KEEP IT AWAY FROM THE TENTS
It’s an obvious one, but keep the fire at least 15 feet away from the walls of any tents, unless you want your bed lit up like a Christmas tree. All it takes a few sparks mixed with the nylon and that’s the end of that.
THINK ABOUT THE WIND
Take the wind into consideration, try and find a place protected from big gusts of wind that could blow the flames and make the fire more difficult to control, not to mention the smoke getting in everyone’s eyes.
DON’T BUILD IT AT THE BOTTOM OF A HILL
If your fire does get out of control, it will be able to travel upwards very fast. Try and put the fire at the top of a hill or on even ground to minimise the damage if it does get out of control.
Finally, it is important to check if you can light a fire at all. Strict regulations are in place particularly through the hot months. You will need to check your state and local regulations. I suggest you know the parameters before you go, otherwise you will need to find out from locals or local news sources.
Is there anything you can add to this article? Share your thoughts through the comments section below.