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Safety in the forest

July 12, 2013
Lake Placid News

It's was usually easy to sit to watch a news channel and see a disaster take place somewhere else and think to ourselves "it won't happen here."

Perhaps after Hurricane Irene that changed for some people. Since then, storm warnings are probably taken a bit more seriously.

Now we see that 19 firefighters lost their lives in Arizona fighting an out-of-control forest fire. Our hearts go out to the family and friends of those victims. But we should also keep in mind, the Adirondacks are not immune to such a disaster.

With that in mind, this is a stark reminder of the type of disaster that can happen in a forest - and since we live in a 6-million acre forest park, those who enjoy the outdoors must be especially vigilant. Although the Arizona fire started by a lightning strike, our region can be hit with a similar disaster.

Camping is at its peak now, and campers must be careful with their fires. Here are some tips as listed on the state Department of Environmental Conservation's website:

Use existing campfire rings when possible.

Build campfires away from overhanging branches, steep slopes, rotten stumps, logs, dry grass and leaves. Pile any extra wood away from the fire.

Campfires must be less than 3 feet in height and 4 feet in diameter. Only charcoal or untreated wood can be used as fuel. A good bed of coals or a small fire surrounded by rocks gives plenty of heat. Scrape away litter, duff, and any burnable material within a 10-foot diameter circle. This will keep the campfire from spreading.

Be sure your match is out. Hold it until it is cold.

Never leave a campfire unattended. Even a small breeze could cause the fire to spread quickly.

Drown the fire with water. Make sure all embers, coals, and sticks are wet. Move rocks as there may be burning embers underneath.

Stir the remains, add more water, and stir again. If you do not have water use dirt. Do not bury your coals as they can smolder and break out.

Consider using a small stove for cooking in remote areas versus making a campfire.

But campers are not the only ones who can ignite a forest fire disaster. Those who travel in a motor vehicle can be culprits. Certainly everyone has been behind someone who tossed a lit cigarette out the window. Those who smoke in their vehicles should show some respect and care for the environment and use the ash tray in the car, truck or SUV.

Please remember the message from Smokey the Bear: "Only you can prevent wildfires." Let's do our best to make sure an Arizona-type tragedy doesn't happen here in the Adirondacks.



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