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MHS67
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05/27/2020 11:14AM

Every year I post this as a reminder. I understand northeast Minnesota got some rain the other day. Keep in mind one hour fuels (pine needles, dry grass, etc.) only need sun and wind on them for an hour or less and they will burn again, even after rain. Stay safe out there.
 
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Jeriatric
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05/27/2020 01:07PM
Hi Larry. When one immerses him or herself to avoid fire, one hopes that the water is not too cold.
 
LindenTree
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05/27/2020 01:29PM
Always good information Larry.

My last 3 years in Alaska, myself and my co-workers would report around 60 unattended campfires every year. I personally found around 30 of them each year on my patrols. The three years I worked out of Isabella I must have found about 15-20 a year. People who visited Superior NF campgrounds seemed to be a little better at extinguishing their campfires than Alaskans. We all need to be very careful with fires now, and put them dead out.
Yes we got rain over the last 3-4 days but it was spotty in some areas, I saw one report from the NWS that showed .22 inches south west of the Ely area, many of the Remote Area Weather Stations showed less than that. Parts of the Superior National Forest will be in high to very high fire danger in a couple days. Our thousand hour fuels are predicted to be in the exceptionally dry range today at 14 percent, even after the rains.

Isabella Weather Station/.11 inches of rain in the last week, click on the "Graph of last 7 days"
 
MHS67
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05/27/2020 01:57PM
Hi Jerry, Its odd you have to worry about hypothermia during a fire! Hopefully we never have to use that method. If I ever do, I'm going all the way across the lake so I can stand on the bottom. Water might be a little warmer close to shore. Hope everything is going well with you guys. Larry
 
MHS67
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05/27/2020 02:04PM
Linden, that is unbelievable to find that many unattended camp fires!! I haven't heard what our 1000 hour fuels are so far this year. In our area we are at 10 inches of rain. Normal is between 20 and 25 inches. Rain should be done till November.
Was planning on making it back there this summer to do a canoe trip, however, it doesn't look like that will happen.
 
Jaywalker
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05/27/2020 03:44PM
MHS67, just wondering what year this brochure was produced? Having been underneath a canoe as a kid I have thought that might be a good place to hide in an extreme emergency. Last year when reading Gunflint Burning, I was taken back by a photo of a line of Kevlar canoes burned to a crisp with nothing but the metal edging left save for on end of one canoe (between pages 267-268). I have no idea what it takes to ignite a Kevlar canoe, but once reached it looks like they can really burn. I can only guess that falling embers should not be enough, but it did give me pause to wonder. Just curious.

Edit 5/29: I actually checked with Northstar and it sounds like it would likely take a good deal more than a few embers for at least their boats. I was reminded of a Northstar boat that was set on on some hot embers at the end of a portage during a fire in WCPP a while back and received cosmetic damage but was not engulfed despite prolonged exposure.
 
MHS67
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05/27/2020 10:27PM
Jaywalker, I just looked at the Forest Service pamphlet again and there is no date on it. However it must have been printed after the blow down in 1999, it was mentioned on the back of the pamphlet. The way I was made aware of it was after the Pagami Creek Fire. I called the Forest Service in Duluth and asked why they had no pamphlet they could hand out on wild fire safety. I even told them I would help write one. The person I was talking to said he thought they already had one. He sent me this one I posted. Along with it was a note that they would be handing it out in the future as part of the permit process. I guess it was part of the budget cuts, as I never seen it again. It is pretty good though.

Without doing some research, I'm not sure at what temperature a kevlar canoe will start to burn. However I'm sure a person under it would not survive in that kind of heat. Especially if there was direct flame contact. That is why, If I'm in that type of predicament, I will go to the far side of the lake away from the fire, I would like to be able to stand on the bottom with the canoe over my head if needed.

That was a pretty good book wasn't it. LindenTree knew most of the people involved in that fire.
 
Portage99
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05/28/2020 12:23PM
Good point! I was taught canoeing and safety with the old aluminum babies. It is a great point to re-evaluate for Kevlar...although...given the options, it is probably the best option, still....

I hope I never have to test either!!

One good thing about the old way of Girl Scouting is they really beat this into you. If you can't hold your hand close to the coals for an extended period, the fire is not out. I find it impossible to walk away from a fire or retire to a tent without being sure everything is cold.
 
Jaywalker
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05/28/2020 01:01PM
MHS67, thanks for the reply. I agree it is a good pamphlet and I’m surprised they don’t hand them out when conditions are very dry, yet yours online is the only one I’ve seen. I was wondering if it was from the days of mostly aluminum canoes, but it was well into the Kevlar era. I rather doubt a Kevlar boat would light that easily, but the thought crossed my mind. With no better options, I’ll be on the downwind side of the lake under my boat right next to you. You’ll know me because I’ll be the guy trying to keep two dogs under there with me! Wish me luck!
 
MHS67
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05/28/2020 02:32PM
Jaywalker: "MHS67, thanks for the reply. I agree it is a good pamphlet and I’m surprised they don’t hand them out when conditions are very dry, yet yours online is the only one I’ve seen. I was wondering if it was from the days of mostly aluminum canoes, but it was well into the Kevlar era. I rather doubt a Kevlar boat would light that easily, but the thought crossed my mind. With no better options, I’ll be on the downwind side of the lake under my boat right next to you. You’ll know me because I’ll be the guy trying to keep two dogs under there with me! Wish me luck!"

I'll bring plenty of dog treats!!
 
LindenTree
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05/28/2020 06:42PM
Not sure what Jerry was referring to but I have seen wildfires burn across ice in the cattails and swamp grass in MN. I have also seen them burn in the NW Minnesota prairie grass while in a moderate snow storm and at other times in +15 degree temps.

Minute 30 talks about them getting hypothermia from the cold sept water.
 
MHS67
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05/28/2020 07:17PM
Linden, I'm pretty sure Jerry was referring to deploying in cold water.

When I was still teaching, I used to show the Pagami Creek video as a lead in to the fire shelter class. After the video was over I'd ask if there were any questions. Almost every class would ask, "we don't have lakes, what do we do". I'd just say, pay attention, your about to find out!! That's a great video. Especially for you, knowing some of the people involved in it.
 
Portage99
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05/28/2020 08:46PM
This might be a stupid question, but when it says ‘have an alternate route if the wind changes direction’- I’m not sure what that means in real-time. In general, are you looking to move south west of a fire unless prevailing winds are not NE? If you don’t know a lot about wildfires, which I don’t, it’s hard to understand exactly where they are and how fast they are moving. When I was out West and there were fires, Everything looked unsafe to me! But people with a lot of experience dealing with wildfires, weren’t concerned at all. Or, another example-a road would look super dangerous to me but be open and fine. Once, I stopped and asked one of the fire guys to be sure as there were no other cars ( thought I screwed up.). He was like oh no it’s all through and it’s OK. But they were burning embers everywhere. I don’t know if I’m making myself clear, but I’ve always been confused on how to evaluate a fire from a novice perspective. It’s definitely a learned skill to read and deal with wildfires.

I guess my question is- if you were on a campsite and you see smoke in the distance… From your experience, what types of things help you evaluate the fire and craft an intelligent plan?
 
MHS67
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05/28/2020 09:38PM
WOW, Portage99, that is a really good question!! We are still all learning, every fire we went on we learned something new about fire behavior. First off, there are 3 main factors that effect fire behavior, fuel, weather and topography. In the BW you have lots of fuel, very thick and most all will burn. You don't have much topography, hills are pretty small. But weather back there is a big one. Wind will effect fire behavior more than any other factor. So, your in your camp and that night there is a real lighting storm that goes through. A couple hours after day light you notice a large column of smoke a couple miles to the north of your camp. The smoke is going straight up as there is no wind, yet. You are concerned, so your party starts to pack up to leave. While you are packing the winds starts to pick up, out of the north. Now the smoke column is leaning right over your camp. That's a bad sign! We teach in this case its best to travel 90 degrees from the direction the fire is traveling. So you will get the map out and look for an escape route that will take you either east or west. A route that will lead you completely out of the area. Say for instance, the route to the west has a 400 rod portage, to the east only a 20 rod portage. You don't want to be caught on a portage by the fire!!!
Having an alternate route means if the wind changes direction while you are on your way out. It is now blowing out of the west. The smoke column is again right above you. you may have to change your route to the north or south. Try always to have a plan B.
To evaluate a fire for a novice would be hard, like you said, it takes years of experience just to, sometimes get it right! The best thing in my opinion, read the smoke column. If it is going straight up the fire is not moving very fast. If the column is bending a little the fire will pick up some speed. The one you don't want to see is high wind and the smoke and embers blowing through the trees close to you. That is the time you should be looking at taking shelter in a lake, as we talked about in posts above. A couple things I try to do, no matter where I am is, be aware of what is going on around you. Don't panic. One of our ten standard firefighting rule is, keep calm, think clearly act decisively. Again, this is a really good question, thank you.
 
05/29/2020 06:10AM
This is a great and informative thread, thank you!
 
Portage99
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05/29/2020 06:11AM
That’s super interesting and helpful information! Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

I read this last night and fell asleep thinking about it. I dreamt I was actually doing this! Ha Must have captured my imagination.
 
05/29/2020 06:14AM
On another note, you gotta tell us what “4) chicken coop “ is about. ??
 
05/29/2020 07:48AM
Being on Insula when Pagami broke and ran easterly I was grateful for the regional maps we had along to develop the alternate route out. We made it out fine, with some stories. Bring maps.
I was also impressed with the wind the fire created and the rough water we had to paddle until we got clear of Insula. I get being under the canoe, but not in rough waters. Any ideas about that?
 
MHS67
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05/29/2020 08:09AM
OneMatch: "On another note, you gotta tell us what “4) chicken coop “ is about. ??"

Didn't notice that !! It's PART of my wife's to do list for me, she pined it on the board so I wouldn't loose it. She always wanted chickens, so on the list. I don't remember what 1 2 3 were but I did get to at least 4.
 
Portage99
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05/29/2020 08:20AM
bhouse46: "Being on Insula when Pagami broke and ran easterly I was grateful for the regional maps we had along to develop the alternate route out. We made it out fine, with some stories. Bring maps.
I was also impressed with the wind the fire created and the rough water we had to paddle until we got clear of Insula. I get being under the canoe, but not in rough waters. Any ideas about that?"


I’d be interested in hearing details on how you navigated out and made your decisions. If you have time and care to share.
 
MHS67
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05/29/2020 08:23AM
bhouse46: "Being on Insula when Pagami broke and ran easterly I was grateful for the regional maps we had along to develop the alternate route out. We made it out fine, with some stories. Bring maps.
I was also impressed with the wind the fire created and the rough water we had to paddle until we got clear of Insula. I get being under the canoe, but not in rough waters. Any ideas about that?"

I think you are right, being on open water in the wind and waves would be hard. That is one reason I would go all the way to the opposite shore where I could just stand on bottom and still be up to my neck in water. The water should be a little warmer there (hypothermia) but you still have to deal with the wind and waves. At least there you might have a little more stability.
I think you would be surprised what a person can endure under those kind of conditions. Your Pagami Creek trip, I agree with Portage99, it would be interesting to hear about it. Sounds like you were well prepared!
 
LindenTree
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05/29/2020 10:01AM
MHS67: "Linden, That's a great video. Especially for you, knowing some of the people involved in it."

Andrea L married my boss, I asked her about 1.5 years ago if she had PTSD from the Insula Lake Pagami Fire entrapment incident, she replied that she didn't think so.
Nancy M married one of my co-workers but I hardly know her.

There was another near miss on Alice Lake, firefighters square stern canoe turned over when a float plane was trying to pick them up in October. It was windy and the plane made a harrowing effort to land and save them. It did land and pick them up but they nearly died. One of the firefighters was a good friend of mine, he was visibly shaken when he relayed the story to me.

Start reading on page 6, they changed the names from the link I provided earlier but they are the same people
 
LindenTree
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05/29/2020 10:15AM
Here is the Alice Lake canoe overturn incident on the Pagami Fire.

Alice Lake canoe incident
 
MHS67
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05/29/2020 01:54PM
Portage99: "That’s super interesting and helpful information! Thanks for sharing your knowledge.


I read this last night and fell asleep thinking about it. I dreamt I was actually doing this! Ha Must have captured my imagination."

In your dream, I hope you made it out ok!!!
 
MHS67
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05/29/2020 02:06PM
Linden, I'm part way through all the reading. Its 95 here right know at noon, on its way to close to 100. Yesterday it was 104. While reading a part that pertained to weather, I remember something Whitewolf said quite a while ago. Wind is fairly easy to predict because it's caused be the difference in air pressure between a high and low pressure systems. I read that the wind event was not predicted. If it wasn't I wonder why? Or like Storm King Mountain, did it not get passed along? Any insight?

Thanks for all the information, its getting to hot to work outside!!
 
Portage99
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05/29/2020 02:46PM
MHS67: "Portage99: "That’s super interesting and helpful information! Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

I read this last night and fell asleep thinking about it. I dreamt I was actually doing this! Ha Must have captured my imagination."

In your dream, I hope you made it out ok!!!"


I was amazing in my dream! The fire was after me like a monster. I had to change directions about 15 times. I was fearless and confident and read the fire behavior perfectly. Of course, in reality, I’d be screaming my head off and probably paralyzed with fear. Cross fingers I’m never in that situation.

I read somewhere that the military uses visualization before implementing a dangerous mission- they visualize every foreseen situation and run through appropriate action in their minds. The article I read said it was in inoculation against fear. So, hopefully my dream would help me be confident. I never want to find out!!
 
LindenTree
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05/29/2020 02:49PM
MHS67: "Linden, I remember something Whitewolf said quite a while ago. Wind is fairly easy to predict because it's caused be the difference in air pressure between a high and low pressure systems. I read that the wind event was not predicted. If it wasn't I wonder why?


A couple things, I was paddling with the wife on Insula 3-4 days before the fire blew up, I spent 8-ish days in that area between Alice and Lake one. The fire and smoke column continued to get larger every day of the last 4-5 I was there. I knew things were not looking good and told the wife, I may be back here fighting this thing soon. Sure enough I was sent back out to fight the fire in my old district of Isabella shortly after returning home.

When the wife and I left Lake one headed for home I stopped by the Ely airport to talk to a buddy who managed the USFS helicopter. I asked him, "Are they going to catch this fire" he replied "No, haven't you seen the weather forecast, we are going to get hit with wind in a few days?
They are going to loose it, they just don't know it yet" Sure enough 3-4ish days later with the wind event, it blew up.
I'm guessing the incident management team was aware of the forecast, I but don't know for certain. I think there was some denial that the fire was going to get outside of the box.
The USFS and Ely Ranger district went from the attitude of "Spend as little money as is possible to keep this fire in the " predetermined proposed management area" to "spend as much money as it takes to put this fire out"
This is what one of the incident commanders of the fire told me a couple years later.

I know no one including the computer models predicted the large 90,000 acre run it made in two days. But some local firefighters were predicting that it would escape the box the USFS was trying to keep it in.
Prior to and during the blow up, all Incident Management Teams on that fire were from Minnesota, and should/would have been well aware of fire management in the BW.
When it blew up a type 1 team from the Northern Rockies took over the fire, they are the ones I worked for two weeks around Isabella Lake. I had around 130 people working under me, I was a Task Force Leader and had the area from Bog Lake to Section Twenty-nine Lake/Comfort Lake area.

 
Jaywalker
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06/01/2020 06:10PM
Portage99: "This might be a stupid question, but when it says ‘have an alternate route if the wind changes direction’- I’m not sure what that means in real-time. In general, are you looking to move south west of a fire unless prevailing winds are not NE? If you don’t know a lot about wildfires, which I don’t, it’s hard to understand exactly where they are and how fast they are moving. When I was out West and there were fires, Everything looked unsafe to me! But people with a lot of experience dealing with wildfires, weren’t concerned at all. Or, another example-a road would look super dangerous to me but be open and fine. Once, I stopped and asked one of the fire guys to be sure as there were no other cars ( thought I screwed up.). He was like oh no it’s all through and it’s OK. But they were burning embers everywhere. I don’t know if I’m making myself clear, but I’ve always been confused on how to evaluate a fire from a novice perspective. It’s definitely a learned skill to read and deal with wildfires.


I guess my question is- if you were on a campsite and you see smoke in the distance… From your experience, what types of things help you evaluate the fire and craft an intelligent plan?"

This was a GREAT question, and one I've wondered about many times. Below is a photo of a real life situation I faced. I was about 4 miles into the back country in Yellowstone in late September. About noon, I had had just released my best cutthroat ever and looked up and saw the smoke. Winds were just picking up for the day, and it was dry. It took me about 20 minutes to land that trout, and the smoke had not been there before. The smoke was directly upwind from me. My topo map, hiking boots, rain gear, water, and backpack were about 400 yards upriver and away from the parking lot. I wasn't sure if I should abandon my gear or race back to it and then head out, thinking I'd exit the overall trail faster in hiking boots than waders..... So how long might that fire take to reach me? Again, this was a very good question.
 
Jaywalker
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06/01/2020 06:30PM
And exactly 10 minutes later, this was the scene... The professionals might size this up in an instant, but it scared the crap out of me.
 
MHS67
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06/02/2020 12:36AM
Jaywalker, that's a big change in 10 minuets!! ANYBODY would be REALLY concerned about being in the same situation. How did you handle it?

Oh, did you happen to get a picture of the cutthroat??
 
06/02/2020 10:45AM
MHS67: "Linden, I'm part way through all the reading. Its 95 here right know at noon, on its way to close to 100. Yesterday it was 104. While reading a part that pertained to weather, I remember something Whitewolf said quite a while ago. Wind is fairly easy to predict because it's caused be the difference in air pressure between a high and low pressure systems. I read that the wind event was not predicted. If it wasn't I wonder why? Or like Storm King Mountain, did it not get passed along? Any insight?

Thanks for all the information, its getting to hot to work outside!!"




It’s saying 90 on my thermometer... good day to work inside! Probably at the firehall...

Boy, good information. It’s fun getting different peoples thoughts and perspectives. portage99 has good valid thoughts also. I kinda chuckle when people dream about things they were in conversation about. My daughter does that a lot.
As far as the cold water, hypothermia is something I’d choose over getting burnt to death.
I was just reminiscing about a fire we had a number of years ago on an island near me. I was admiring the trees towering making a nice canopy. But how close it came to being all burnt. Always fun to have your whole fire department on scene and no way to get to the island. 3am and we couldn’t get the campers awake to come get us with their boat. So we borrowed a canoe and paddled out and used the campers boat to shuttle personal and water packs out there. The DNR came with a pump that you fire up and toss in the lake. Little 1” hose looked kinda small. But boy did that work good. The campers had put the fire out but it rekindled and embers blew out of the pit and started debris around burning and luckily never climbed any trees too high.
 
Jaywalker
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06/02/2020 02:21PM
MHS67: "Jaywalker, that's a big change in 10 minuets!! ANYBODY would be REALLY concerned about being in the same situation. How did you handle it?


Oh, did you happen to get a picture of the cutthroat??"

I hustled back to my gear where the second photo was taken, changed and packed super fast, and started scooting my way out as fast as i could maintain carrying 25lbs at 7000 feet. As I got to higher elevation about a mile away, I could see it was further than I realized, but from the river I thought it was just on the other side of the hill and expected embers that never came. About 1.5 miles from my car I ran into a ranger hiking to to post trail closings. He told me it was still some 8 or so miles away. I also think he told me fires usually only travel about 4-5 miles a day (I might not recall correctly). I thought of him telling me that the next year when the Pagami Fire ran something like 18 miles in a day! On the river, I really did think I might get caught up in the flames.

Oh, and sadly no photo of the fish.
 
LindenTree
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06/02/2020 03:50PM
Portage99: "
I guess my question is- if you were on a campsite and you see smoke in the distance… From your experience, what types of things help you evaluate the fire and craft an intelligent plan?"


Portage,

Another tool firefighters use to evaluate a fires intensity from a distance is the color of the smoke.
"Usually" lighter/whiter colored smoke indicates a low intensity surface/ground fire is occurring. Surface fires are most of the time easier to extinguish. A surface fire can change to a crown fire where fires start burning through the top/canopy of trees in an instant when weather and drought factors align.

Darker grey to black colored smoke indicates that the fire is burning with great intensity, in a forested environment it would indicate that a Crown Fire is occurring or beginning to happen.

Pulses of smoke between grey and black indicates that single trees or groups trees are torching/burning and could at any moment transition to a full blown Crown Fire.

The time of day when things are burning is important especially in the BW, where we get high humidity recovery even in dry times in the evening and night. During the night time hours, fires will almost always die down/lower in intensity, and pick back up in the afternoon with around 4pm being the time where they burn with the most intensity, due to the higher temps and lower humidity at that time. Torching and Crown fire
 
06/02/2020 04:58PM
MHS67: "Jaywalker, that's a big change in 10 minuets!! ANYBODY would be REALLY concerned about being in the same situation. How did you handle it?


Oh, did you happen to get a picture of the cutthroat??"


Your question just cracks me up! Never let anything like a life threatening fire get in the way of a good fish photo! Love it!
 
06/03/2020 05:18PM
The USFS Rangers are stopping by the campground on The Gunflint Trail handing these reminders out to campers.
 
MHS67
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06/03/2020 11:03PM
Zulu: " The USFS Rangers are stopping by the campground on The Gunflint Trail handing these reminders out to campers. "
As I was reading this I got to thinking, we had to TEACH new firefighters how to mop up a fire. This just means to put it out. I wonder how many campers out there really know how to put out a camp fire so it is dead out. Maybe the video you watch before getting your permit should have a part showing how to correctly extinguish a camp fire. Just a thought.
 
x2jmorris
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06/04/2020 06:27AM
MHS67: "Linden, that is unbelievable to find that many unattended camp fires!! I haven't heard what our 1000 hour fuels are so far this year. In our area we are at 10 inches of rain. Normal is between 20 and 25 inches. Rain should be done till November.
Was planning on making it back there this summer to do a canoe trip, however, it doesn't look like that will happen. "


I've found quite a few unattended fires in the bwca during day trips looking at other camp sites. Many don't seem to care or think about it.
 
LindenTree
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06/04/2020 09:08AM
MHS67: "
As I was reading this I got to thinking, we had to TEACH new firefighters how to mop up a fire. This just means to put it out. I wonder how many campers out there really know how to put out a camp fire so it is dead out. Maybe the video you watch before getting your permit should have a part showing how to correctly extinguish a camp fire. Just a thought."


That is a good point Larry, I would guess many do not know how to extinguish a campfire, but I never paid much attention to the ones that were out, so it would be a wild guess on my part to try.

People had tried to put out the camp fire in probably 10% of the unattended fires I came across. Most of the time I could tell that people simply poured a small amount water over it and left it still smoldering.
 
MHS67
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06/04/2020 09:12AM
x2jmorris: "MHS67: "Linden, that is unbelievable to find that many unattended camp fires!! I haven't heard what our 1000 hour fuels are so far this year. In our area we are at 10 inches of rain. Normal is between 20 and 25 inches. Rain should be done till November.
Was planning on making it back there this summer to do a canoe trip, however, it doesn't look like that will happen. "



I've found quite a few unattended fires in the bwca during day trips looking at other camp sites. Many don't seem to care or think about it."


You kind of wonder if those people think if you dump a little water on there fire it is out, or are they the same caliber of person that doesn't clean up there campsite?
 
06/04/2020 11:04AM
I remember being taught the drown and stir method by Smokey Bear between Saturday morning cartoons in the 1960’s. I always like doing the method. I like the sound the embers make when you douse them and the weird smell and sounds that happen. Then I’m always surprised there are hot spots in the wood after stirring the slurry for a while.

Despite years of warnings some people will never believe in being careful with fire. I have found many campfires still smoldering despite the fact that water is plentiful close by.

During the Pagami Creek Fire people camping near me less than 2 miles away from the fire and during the windy night before it got away were building huge fires. I listened to Rangers asking them not to but hoot owl fires were allowed. Humidity was like 17% and it hadn’t rained in a month.

Smokey gets through to some people but not all. Maybe he should be tougher and preach that fires could take out The Internet or something.
 
LindenTree
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06/04/2020 12:49PM
This safe campfire video was put out by our region of the US Fish and Wildlife Service in Alaska.

Safe Campfire/Alaskan Smores, gross but funny
 
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