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How to avoid lighting Bend on fire

Todd Lake

So, you’re fired up about your Bend vacation. You should be! Summer’s a great time for hiking, biking, paddling, and camping in this high desert oasis.

The seasonal campfire ban is in effect at many spots around Central Oregon, so make sure you check the rules before you go.

It’s also a great time to inadvertently start a forest fire, which really shouldn’t be one of your vacation goals.

Wildfire is a natural phenomenon in a region prone to lightning storms that can morph into 10,000-acre blazes in the blink of an eye.

But it’s the human-caused fires that are especially tragic because they’re totally avoidable. Keep reading to learn how you can help prevent them (and how you can win a Bend vacation for pledging to do it!)


Follow the rules with campfires

Every year, there’s a gradual tightening of campfire restrictions around Central Oregon as conditions get drier and fire danger increases.

Restrictions are placed throughout the area all summer, so it’s smart to be informed about where you can and can’t have campfires.

This link is a terrific one to bookmark so you’re in-the-know about where you can and can’t have campfires. Study up and check back frequently for changes.

Oh, and when the rules get super-strict in late-summer as they always do, you can always check this blog post for ways to get your campfire fix without the flames.


Time for a tune-up

More than one forest fire has been sparked by a vehicle manned by a driver completely clueless about the swath of damage left in his wake. Don’t be that guy.

Make sure there are no chains or other metal parts dragging behind your vehicle. It’s also smart to ensure your tires are filled properly and there are no exposed edges on your wheel rims. Ditto that for not letting your brake pads wear too thin, since metal on metal makes sparks.

If you’re driving or parking on dry grass, be extra-super-duper careful. Hot exhaust pipes touching brush can set off a disaster of epic proportions.


Be prepared

Accidents happen to the best of us. But summertime in the high desert isn’t a very forgiving season, so it pays to keep a fire extinguisher handy in your car.

Camping’s still fun, even without the fire.

If you’ve made sure fire is allowed in your campsite of choice, bring extra water and a bucket to help transport water from any nearby creek or pond. It’s also smart to have a shovel to help you turn over the ashes to ensure your campfire is fully extinguished when you leave (more on that in a sec).


No smoking

You already know it’s bad for your health, and vacationing in the land of fresh air and sunshine (not to mention the land of increased fire risk) is a darn good excuse to quit.

But if you’re not ready to do that, please, please, for the love of all that’s holy, do not throw cigarettes out windows, on the ground, or anywhere other than the ash tray in your personal vehicle, in a bowl of water, or in butt cans you’ll find around Bend.

And if you’re a smoker, pay extra close attention to the aforementioned suggestion about fire extinguishers and water.


No fireworks, either

It goes without saying that tossing lit fireworks into a forest is a bad idea.

It does go without saying, right?

Sigh. Never mind.

Don’t do it. Not only is it illegal, it’s pretty darned dumb. Even possessing fireworks on public lands is illegal, and you can get a ticket just for having them on your person or in your vehicle. Seriously, guys—leave them at home.


Come on, baby, douse my fire

Now that you’ve consulted and found a spot where you’re allowed to have a campfire on the dates of your Bend vacation, it’s time to brush up on campfire safety.

Trees look nicer when they’re not on fire.

You’ll find great tips here for building and maintaining a fire that’s legal and unlikely to burn down vast swaths of forest, but here’s a recap of the high points:

  • Add larger pieces of wood gradually to control the size of your fire.
  • Never throw things like aerosol cans, pressurized containers, glass, or aluminum cans on your fire.
  • When extinguishing your fire, allow the wood to burn down to ash. Then pour LOTS of water on it. GOBS. Drown all the embers, not just the red ones. Repeat until the hissing stops. Then stir it with a stick or shovel to find any hot spots. Douse it with water again to ensure you’ve gotten every last ember extinguished.
  • Remember that if it’s too hot to touch, it’s too hot to leave.
  • Follow Leave No Trace practices when you’re camping. For more tips along these lines, check out our Visit Like a Local


Take the Bend Pledge

The Bend Pledge is a collection of ten promises we ask everyone to make to ensure we all enjoy a safe, happy, healthy experience in Bend.

All ten of them are important, but the one that mentions fire safety is especially crucial this time of year.

Take the Bend Pledge today and not only will you commit to doing your part, you’ll have a chance to win a fabulous Bend vacation. We draw a new winner every six months, so hop to it and take the pledge today!


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