Thursday, Dec 18, 2014
CARTERVILLE -- Millions of acres of forest are burned in wildfires each year throughout the United States. Many of these fires could have been prevented.
Wendy Cowsert with the Shawnee National Forest says this region is very susceptible to wildfires during the fall. She explains, "Even just tossing a cigarette butt out that's still lit, if the humidity is low enough, it will catch fire and it'll burn."
Fall is also the time that people are out creating campfires, some even in their own backyards.
Carterville Fire Chief Bruce Talley has seen everything from vinyl siding to swimming pools go up in smoke because of backyard campfires.
He says, "Anything that's plastic that can melt is not a good thing to build a fire near. Stay equidistant from everything that you possibly can."
If creating your own campfire, Wendy Cowsert suggests building a ring of rocks about 3 feet in diameter.
"You want to keep your wood inside that ring. It's best if you had a tool, shovel, rake or something to take away the debris and get just dirt. Make sure and put the rocks around that."
Even when using a designated campfire ring, campers still want to make sure the area around the fire is clear from all debris.
Cowsert says, "They can use any dead and downed wood in and outside of the campground, but it's very important to build a fire ring and keep that fire contained. Also, make sure that all the ambers are cool, totally cold before you leave that fire."
Chief Talley agrees and says, "You must stay there until the fire is completely out. Don't even go inside for just a few short moments without leaving someone there to attend to that fire."
More than 3,200,000 acres of forest have already burned in the United States so far this year.
More information about fire safety and prevention can be found through the link at the top of the page.
Wind: 3 MPH
Humidity: 86 %