Backcountry campfires banned by parks system
Posted: Monday, October 11, 2010 9:19 pm
The Tennessee State Parks system is issuing a temporary ban on backcountry campfires in all state parks due to dry weather conditions increasing wildfire hazards.
The backcountry campfire ban is effective immediately and will remain in place until further notice.
In coordination with the Department of Agriculture’s Division of Forestry, this burn ban serves as an additional measure to ensure the safety of campers and to protect the parks’ forested areas. Campers will still be able to build campfires and use charcoal to cook their meals, as long as they are inside an appropriate fire ring or designated grill area.
“Dry weather has impacted the entire state, especially in West Tennessee and areas along the border of Middle and East Tennessee,” said Assistant Commissioner for Tennessee State Parks Mike Carlton. “Humidity is very low and with fronts bringing high winds, we want to take every precaution necessary to protect people and land.”
The system-wide backcountry campfire ban expands the campfire ban issued earlier last week at the Cumberland Trail State Park and Scenic Trail. Tennessee State Parks and the Division of Forestry fought two fires along the Cumberland Trail in recent weeks, one impacting approximately 50 acres near Soddy Daisy and the second burning nearly 200 acres near Sale Creek. Conditions continue to be at extremely high danger levels for fire outbreaks.
“We encourage all state park visitors to immediately report a fire or what could be a potential fire danger to 911. If a Tennessee State Park office or ranger station is nearby, also report to these appropriate locations,” added Carlton. “If hikers in the backcountry do not have immediate access to communication, please report potential fire hazards or visible burning to 911 as soon as possible. All visitors or hikers should use extreme caution and never approach a wildfire or attempt to put out a fire.”
Carlton also offered several basic fire safety tips for park visitors:
• Use designated areas — Campfires in Tennessee State Parks must be contained within designated grills or fire grates. No backcountry campfires are allowed at this time.
• Be responsible — Never leave a fire unattended, even for a minute. Smoke in a car or designated area, if possible. Dispose of cigarettes in a non-flammable container. Don’t allow children and pets near the campfire and never leave them unsupervised.
• Play it safe — Keep a bucket of water and a shovel nearby. Stack extra wood upwind and away from the fire. After lighting, do not discard the match until it is cold.
• Do it right the first time — Learn how to safely start a fire. Never use flammable liquids to ignite or keep a fire burning. This means, avoid gasoline, diesel fuel, lighter fluid and other dangerous fuels.
• Be aware of the surroundings — Avoid starting a fire underneath low-hanging branches or shrubbery. Fires can often flame higher than you anticipate. Keep a campfire away from anything flammable, such as dry grass, tents, paper plates, napkins and camping gear.
• Watch the weather — Be aware that hot embers can re-ignite the fire if strong winds are present.
• No fireworks — Fireworks of any kind are prohibited within the Tennessee State Parks system, except public displays approved by Tennessee State Parks officials in partnership with local government.
• Put it out — Make sure a campfire is completely extinguished before leaving a campsite or before bedtime. Always have on hand things to put out a fire such as water, a shovel and a fire extinguisher.
Tennessee’s 53 state parks offer diverse natural, recreational and cultural experiences for individuals, families or business and professional groups. State park features range from pristine natural areas to 18-hole championship golf courses. For a free brochure about Tennessee State Parks, call toll free at 1-888-867-2757. For additional information, visit www.tnstateparks.com.
Published in The Messenger 10.11.10