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Some fodder for your scoutmaster minute on why you emptied your canteen on some trail-side warming fire your boys lit ...



Forty years of nutrient litter smolder away in four days. Fortunately limited to just a few acres in a 64 square mile area.


It's a shame, but many folks in these parts take fire risk too lightly, thinking it's a Western problem.

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I was shocked the first time I came upon a trailside fire left to smolder (left by another camper,not a scout), and even more shocked when one of my fellow leaders said oh it will be fine, it will burn itself out.


Drown it, stir it, and drown it again.  If it's too hot to touch, it's too hot to leave.

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And I see it to much. Last time was when the venture patrol went backpacking. Group in another campsite left the remains of their bonfire going. Took the patrol about 45 minutes to put that sucker out since they had to make several trips to the stream to get water. We were already behind schedule, and that added to it.

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Ditto to all the above.  Fodder for my RoundTableNews.   As I teach Fire Safety and Building in IOLS:


The Five Things Needed For A Camp Fire
In school , one is taught three things are needed for a fire:  Oxygen, fuel, and heat. 
For a Scout, there are FIVE things needed.  How do they compare with the three from your science class?   Play the “What If†game.    Number one, before anything else:
1)  The Means To Extinguish The Fire.   Before anything else, how will you put it out?  Water, shovel, rake, sand/dirt.  Have sufficient means and tools collected.  Is it out?  Test firebed with the BACK of your hand… Douse, stir and douse again.
2)  A Safe Area.   Remember that 10’  diameter cleared area.  Use an established fire pit.  If a “new†fire, remember your Leave No Trace guidelines:  Fold back the sod, save the  sod to cover the burned on bare soil area.   Use an above ground fire holder:  old wheelbarrow, oil drum, charcoal grill bed, etc.
3)  A Safe Atmosphere:  Land owners’ permission?  Park Ranger’s permission?  Is there a Drought?  No Fire Ban?  Make it as SMALL as necessary, not as BIG as you can!
4)  Collect Fuel Before Lighting :  Tinder, kindling, fire wood.  It is hard to stop cooking to collect more wood if you run low.  Set things up carefully before attempting to light.  
5)  The Means To Ignite The Fire:  Be Prepared!   Practice in your back yard before you are on the trail. Ceremonial fire?   Practice it first before the big night!  “No, I thought YOU had the flint and steel!â€.

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Great points. I'll be sure to present them. One hitch ...Some locations ask you to build your fires upon a slab of rock. Don't even dig. Know before you go ...


.... Fold back the sod, save the  sod to cover the burned on bare soil area., etc.....


The interesting thing about Dolly Sods: digging fire pits (or using one already dug) may have contributed to the problem. The soil is merely piled-on decaying leaf litter, I've found it 1-1/2 foot deep in places (early surveys reported four feet of the stuff). Once dry, it smolders almost as well as peat. You might "think" you're down to dirt because the "duff" seems like a real porous clay or sand instead of the biomass it truly is. Once dry and hot, it will smolder, air descends into the pit delivering oxygen, combustion proceeds laterally underneath the last four years' of leaf litter.


Whatever has spilled out of unexploded ordnance from 50 years ago does not help!


Thus, find a slab. There's plenty.

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