Forest Service Reports Spate Of Unattended Campfires In Northwest Wyoming

Jul 25, 2017

Credit Billy Hathorn;

Visitors to the Jackson area left at least ten campfires burning over the weekend.

Two of the fires had been built illegally inside Teton National Park, and two were south of Jackson, according to Fire Prevention Officer Lesley Williams. She said the rest of the unattended campfires were discovered west of the park near Shadow Mountain where there aren’t many natural sources of water to douse the flames.  Williams recommended packing extra water on camping trips, and checking to make sure the fire is really extinguished.

“If you think you’ve put your fire out, and you put your hand in and you cannot hold that material for longer than three seconds, your fire’s not out,” Williams said. “So you need to go back and follow those steps of adding more water, adding more cool dirt, and feeling again whether that fire’s actually out.”

Williams said there could have been more than ten unattended campfires, because each ranger district only has two or three people patrolling to make sure visitors cool their fires down completely and storing their food properly. Williams says it’s a big help when other campers or hikers double check nearby camp sites to make sure the fire is cold.

“It can fall on everybody and anybody,” Williams said. “It is public land, it belongs to all of us, so I think it’s our responsibility to take the time and make sure we’re leaving the area just the way we want to see it when we get there for the first time.”

Williams said wildfire risk in the Grand Teton National Park and the Bridger Teton National Forest was rated as “moderate” as of Monday, but she said that will likely increase as the weather gets hotter and drier this summer. Two large wildfires are currently burning in Wyoming, according to the U.S. Forest Service. The Keystone fire south of Laramie and the June fire, which was discovered Tuesday west of Cody, are both partially contained.