SILVER CITY — Recent warmer weather is drawing larger numbers of visitors to the Gila National Forest, as evidenced by the numerous abandoned, smoldering campfires across the forest that were extinguished recently by patrolling fire crews.
Not only is it illegal to leave a campfire unattended, but unattended fire can easily escape, becoming a wildfire, according to a news release.
“When you are preparing to leave your campfire unattended, it is vital that you ensure it is completely cold before departure,” a spokesperson said. First, drown the fire, ashes and coals with water, the release stated. Next, use a shovel to scrape all partially burned sticks and logs to remove all hot embers, and then stir water, ashes, coals and soil to wet all contents. Feel the coals, embers and any partially burned wood with your hands, feeling for heat under rocks and burned materials.
Once everything, including the fire ring, is cool to the touch, the fire is safely out.
“Research suggests that up to 85% of all wildfires are caused by human activities,” said Gila National Forest Supervisor Camille Howes. “I know that our forest visitors come here because they love this landscape, and they would never wish to cause a damaging wildfire. Make sure your campfire doesn’t become a wildfire by taking a few extra minutes to ensure your fire is cold before leaving it unattended.”