BWCA Put your fires ALL THE WAY OUT!! Boundary Waters Listening Point - General Discussion
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AlexanderSupertramp
distinguished member (399)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
05/31/2023 07:43AM  
It should go without saying for most of the prudent members of the forum but since the majority of the trippers are not on this forum, give your non-member friends and fellow trippers a gentle (but not so gentle) reminder to properly extinguish their fires before departing their campsites.

Last week on Wednesday I pulled up to a campsite at about noon, which had presumably been empty for a few hours. I unpacked some gear and popped up my chair next to the fire grate to watch the water and next to me in the fire grate a massive log started smoking and smoldering again from the wind, I rolled it over to find the bottom cherry red still inside a large crack.

For starters, the log (in my opinion) was too large to be burning in the first place, seeing as it barely fit under the grate, and whomever was at the site prior must have put it in there not long before leaving because most of the log remained unburned. If you don't plan on burning the logs/sticks all the way down, then don't put them in the fire to begin with.

Ideally when you leave a campsite, the fire pit should just be ashes and dirt that you can easily stir around with a stick and douse with water. And if you need to spend an extra 5 minutes at night or in the morning to get more water from the lake, or to stir it, then DO IT. I find it hard to believe anyone could possibly be in that much of a hurry while in the BWCA that they can't spend the extra time before bed or before departing to fully ensure that their fire is out. I would put this even above making sure you have picked up all your trash and gear on the list of most important things to do before leaving your campsite.

Apologies for the rant but it really bothered me and I fumed about it for the remainder of the trip, especially given the dry conditions and the propensity for forest fires lately.

 
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tumblehome
distinguished member(2978)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
05/31/2023 08:27AM  
These situations need to be shared.
I ran into the same thing last year.
I pulled up to a camp and there was smoke and hot embers still in the fire pit.

I'm not sure how much rain the BWCA received last night but I am expecting to hear about a fire up there anytime now.

Ignorance is bliss.
Tom
 
TreeBear
distinguished member(538)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
05/31/2023 09:51AM  
Yep, same here. Pulled into a site on Quadga last year. Started pulling trash out of the fire grate and realized that it was very much still hot. I don't get it. It's already dry enough that a lightning fire could start in any one of these storms, we don't need negligent people to start one too. Thanks for the reminder and glad you found it when you did.
 
05/31/2023 09:56AM  
Some things never change. Sad.

Our last canoe trip was in 2013. I can't even tell you how many times in our 40+ years of canoe-tripping that we have checked out a campsite, either to use the latrine when traveling, or for a lunch stop, and found the fire still smoldering. Sometimes even still smoking with no evidence of an attempt to drown it. It always made me furious! And of course WE had to drown it ourselves!

Your rant is well done, but you are probably preaching to the choir!
 
cburton103
distinguished member(587)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
05/31/2023 10:45AM  
I learned this lesson while paddling down a river in the southwest when I was in my twenties. We put a log on the fire that was too large to burn down before going to sleep. We doused it what we thought was very thoroughly before going to bed - quite a few pots of water. We slept under the stars that night, and some pretty good wind was whipping down the rocky canyon that surrounded the river and dried out and reignited the log until it ignited again.

We were pretty shocked by the experience - definitely thought we had it out cold. Lesson learned, we always check for heat now by placing our hands close to the ashes to make sure they're not hot anymore. We depended too much that one evening on just going by red embers being gone visually.
 
05/31/2023 11:35AM  
Yup, that is how the Ham lake fire started. It burned 75,000 acres. The guy who didn't put out the fire entirely ended up shooting himself. A very sad story.
 
cburton103
distinguished member(587)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
05/31/2023 01:27PM  
Soledad: "Yup, that is how the Ham lake fire started. It burned 75,000 acres. The guy who didn't put out the fire entirely ended up shooting himself. A very sad story.
"


I hadn't heard the story of how the Ham Lake Fire started. Tragic on both accounts.
 
RAA
member (5)member
  
05/31/2023 02:38PM  
"It's not out until it's COLD and WET out. A steaming fire pit is not cold."

Find a big stick and stir the ash until it makes mud. It's a mild inconvenience to build a fire in a wet fire pit. It's a nightmare to see hundreds of acres burn due to simple carelessness when everyone knew or should have known it was red flag conditions.

 
gravelroad
distinguished member(1030)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
05/31/2023 02:43PM  
Greatest satisfaction I ever experienced with this was emptying the entire water supply at an unoccupied campsite in a state park on a fire with a flame. Second greatest was telling the occupants I did it when they returned.
 
05/31/2023 05:13PM  
Be sure to let the park rangers know that you recently found a smoldering campfire so that they can remind folks to completely put out their fires.
 
OldGuide2
distinguished member (129)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
05/31/2023 05:45PM  
Thanks much for the reminder. I have lost count of all the fires I have put out in over 50 years in the BWCA/Quetico. What is not mentioned in the posts is how fires can follow roots and start in a different place if not properly doused. And yes, they need to be doused with water, a lot of water. The big issue with this, as with so many others, is enforcement. There is little to no enforcement of the rules. Until someone is nailed and it is publicized in the papers, the offenses will continue. Anyone who sees an untended fire and puts it out needs to report it. Better yet if you have the canoe ID of the bad guys report that also. The problem is the Forest Circus spends no time investigating violations. In these days of permits and entry points it should be that hard to narrow down the offenders.
 
tumblehome
distinguished member(2978)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
05/31/2023 06:51PM  
cburton103: "
Soledad: "Yup, that is how the Ham lake fire started. It burned 75,000 acres. The guy who didn't put out the fire entirely ended up shooting himself. A very sad story.
"



I hadn't heard the story of how the Ham Lake Fire started. Tragic on both accounts."


Yes it is a sad story with a sad ending.

The man that started the Ham Lake fire loved the wilderness, but he was careless with his fire and it got away from him. The fire raged for a few weeks and the Government spent millions trying to extinguish it an save structures outside of the BWCA.

The USFS conducted an investigation into the fire and eventually found the man that started the fire. He was charged in Federal court with several felonies. Days before his trial in Duluth, he committed suicide.

That’s the short version of a long sad story.

Campers REALLY need to extinguish their fires.There have been many memorable forest fires in the BWCA resulting from campfire carelessness.


Tom
 
05/31/2023 10:00PM  
 
WhitePine1
member (43)member
  
06/01/2023 08:36AM  
There is a great book on the Ham Like Fire- Gunflint Burning- Fire in the Boundary Waters by Cary J. Griffith. It goes into great detail about the cause, the role the weather played and the fire fighting measures taken.

Sad story with input from the widow of the man who was charged.

A small fire can become a huge issue, even if there is no ill-intent. Gunflint Burning Book
 
Boppasteveg
distinguished member (149)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
06/02/2023 07:42AM  
cburton103: "
Soledad: "Yup, that is how the Ham lake fire started. It burned 75,000 acres. The guy who didn't put out the fire entirely ended up shooting himself. A very sad story.
"



I hadn't heard the story of how the Ham Lake Fire started. Tragic on both accounts."


The book mentioned above is absolutely gripping.
 
analyzer
distinguished member(2195)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
06/02/2023 08:03AM  
I find it sadly ironic that they wanted to fine him $250,000 for not extinguishing his fire properly, which led to the ham lake fire, yet not long after, the forest service (intentionally) allowed a small fire to burn for 3 weeks, and then the August winds blew it up. If I remember correctly, that one cost several homeowners their cabins/houses, and nearly cost Sawbill outfitters their structure.
 
06/02/2023 03:59PM  
analyzer: "I find it sadly ironic that they wanted to fine him $250,000 for not extinguishing his fire properly, which led to the ham lake fire, yet not long after, the forest service (intentionally) allowed a small fire to burn for 3 weeks, and then the August winds blew it up. If I remember correctly, that one cost several homeowners their cabins/houses, and nearly cost Sawbill outfitters their structure."

+1
 
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