Bighorn National Forest forest supervisor Andrew Johnson has lifted stage 1 fire restrictions in the national forest. Stage 1 restrictions were implemented on July 20 in response to hot and dry conditions in the forest when fire danger was rated extreme. The high number of abandoned campfires found on the forest were also a deciding factor for implementing the restrictions.

Recent precipitation and cooler temperatures have reduced the fire danger to moderate. “Hot weather is likely to return by next weekend, so we should not become complacent,” said Johnson. “The security of campfires remains the single largest factor in issuing restrictions, please make sure your campfires are out and always leave someone in attendance of them. We’ll have warm and dry days into the fall season. While the grasses are wet, the timber fuel types are still dry from the lack of moisture this summer.”

Lifting the restrictions means that campfires are now allowed outside developed recreation sites. Here are some tips for open campfire safety. Consider learning how to build a low impact campfire on https://lnt.org/why/7-principles/minimize-campfire-impacts/ or think about using campfire alternatives such as stoves, lanterns, or night sky viewing. Look for areas that already have fire rings. Ensure your campfire is in an open location away from fuels such as logs, brush, or overhanging branches. If necessary, scrape away grass, leaves, and needles. Scoop a depression in the cleared area and put a ring of rocks around it. Cut wood in short lengths. Fires should be no larger than necessary for cooking or personal warmth. A small campfire puts out a lot of heat. Never leave a fire unattended. Always keep a shovel and a bucket of water nearby. When you’re ready to leave, drown the fire with water, stir the fire area, and then drown it again. Feel with the back of your hand to ensure nothing is still smoldering. Move dirt onto the fire and mix thoroughly.

The fine for an abandoned campfire is up to $5,000 or six months in jail. Violators can be held liable for the costs of suppressing a wildfire if the campfire escapes. Forest Service fire managers would like to thank everyone for doing their part to prevent human-caused wildfires. Learn more about wildland fire and what you can do to prevent wildfires at http://www.smokeybear.com.

For information about conditions in the Bighorn National Forest, call the Medicine Wheel Ranger District in Greybull at 307.765.4435, the Powder River Ranger District in Buffalo at 307.684.7806, or the Tongue Ranger District at 307.674.2600. Visit us at http://www.fs.usda.gov/bighorn, follow us on Twitter (@BighornNF), or like us on Facebook (US Forest Service – Bighorn National Forest).

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