How to Handle an Out-of-Control Campfire

August 11, 2023

Hey, campers! 🔥🏕️

We've all been there – nestled around a crackling campfire, roasting marshmallows, when suddenly a gust of wind sends flames dancing a little too close for comfort. While campfires can create some of our most cherished camping memories, they also come with responsibilities. In today's post, we'll guide you through what to do if your campfire starts to get out of hand, ensuring you're prepared to keep those memories fond, and not, well, fiery.

1. Prevention is Better Than Cure

Before diving into the 'what to do', let's emphasize the 'what NOT to do'.

  • Choose the Right Spot: Make sure you're setting up your campfire at least 15 feet away from tent walls, shrubs, trees or other flammable objects.
  • Consider the Wind: If it's too windy, it might be a good night to opt for a camping stove or simply enjoy the stars. Remember, nature's beauty doesn't always require a fire to appreciate.
  • Keep it Small: A roaring bonfire might seem enticing, but a smaller fire is easier to control and just as warm.

2. The Essentials of Emergency

Always have these on hand:

  • Water: A bucket or two to douse the flames if they get too lively.
  • Sand or Dirt: Useful to smother smaller fires.
  • Fire Extinguisher: If you're car camping, it's wise to have one of these bad boys in the trunk.
  • Shovel: To throw sand or dirt on the fire or create a firebreak.

3. If The Fire Gets Out of Control…

Stay Calm: Panic won’t help. Deep breaths, focus, and think about your next steps.

Douse With Water: Pour water around the edge of the fire, moving towards the center. Remember, it's the embers you need to watch out for – they can fly out and ignite nearby foliage.

Smother With Sand/Dirt: If you don’t have water handy, or it’s not doing the trick, use sand or dirt. Again, start at the edge and move inwards.

Never Leave it Unattended: Even if you think it's under control, never walk away from a fire that's not completely out. Those sneaky embers can re-ignite when you least expect it.

4. Call in the Pros

If the fire continues to spread rapidly, it's time to call 911. Never be embarrassed to call for help; it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

5. The Aftermath

Once you've safely dealt with your unruly campfire:

  • Check the Area: Make sure there aren't any smoldering embers that could flare up later.
  • Learn and Improve: Reflect on what might have caused the fire to get out of control. Was it too windy? Was the fire too big? Did you have all the safety equipment needed? It's all part of the camping learning curve!
  • Share Your Story: Sharing your experiences (yes, even the less-than-perfect ones) can help other campers learn. And hey, in a few months, it might even become one of those "remember when" stories!

Our little adventures into the wild are meant to rejuvenate and inspire us, not to cause anxiety. With the right preparation and knowledge, you can ensure your campfire tales stay delightful – not frightful.

And while we're on the topic of preparation, before you even strike that match, make sure you're stocked up on local firewood to protect our environment from invasive species. Wondering where to get some? Check out for local sources. And always be sure to check for any fire bans or restrictions in your camping area. We've got that info too!

Happy (and safe) camping, everyone! 🔥🌌🏕️

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