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Environment / Sustainability

Responsible recreation key to preventing forest fires

July 1, 2010

Thousands of Colorado families are headed up to the mountains or out onto the plains this weekend to celebrate the Fourth of July. The Colorado State Forest Service and other land-management agencies concerned with fire prevention want to be sure that campers and other outdoor recreationists follow a few simple tips to reduce the risk of human-caused wildfires.

Reduce risk of human-caused wildfires

"Just last weekend, as several large fires were burning around the state, I saw more than one group leave a campfire unattended,” said Steve Ellis, a fire management officer for the CSFS. The now-controlled Round Mountain Fire that occurred west of Loveland last weekend was human-caused and is under investigation.

The July Fourth weekend means an increase in outdoor recreation, so it’s important that virtually everyone who is planning to have a campfire, use fireworks or even drive off-road knows how to avoid accidentally starting a wildfire,” Ellis said.

Ellis emphasizes that even if vegetation looks green and the ground is wet from recent precipitation, campfires still need to be put dead out because they can smolder for days and then start a wildfire when conditions are right. 

“Green areas can dry out from just a few days of hot, sunny weather, so people need to be extra careful,” he said.

Fire safety tips

Following are fire safety tips adapted from

  • If smoking outdoors, ensure that the smoker is surrounded by a 3-foot clearing free of all flammable vegetation.
  • Don't park vehicles on dry grass.
  • If off-road vehicle use is allowed, make sure internal combustion equipment has a spark arrester.
  • Know the county's outdoor burning regulations; unlawful trash burning is a punishable offense.
  • At the first sign of a wildfire, leave the area immediately using established trails or roads, and contact a forest ranger or local fire department as soon as possible.
  • Inspect your campsite and fire ring before leaving the area to make sure your fire is completely out.
  • Never take burning sticks out of a fire.
  • Never take any type of fireworks into undeveloped or wildland areas.
  • Keep stoves, lanterns and heaters away from combustibles.
  • Store flammable liquid containers in a safe place.
  • Never use stoves, lanterns and heaters inside a tent.

For more fire prevention information, go to or

Contact: Ryan Lockwood
Phone: (970) 491-8970