Although the forest-wide numbers have improved over the summer season, fire staff on the Jemez Ranger District of the Santa Fe National Forest (SFNF) found at least a dozen abandoned campfires over the Labor Day weekend, bringing the year’s total for that one district alone to a whopping 164 abandoned campfires.
“And that’s 164 unnecessary opportunities for a wildfire to get out of control and threaten firefighter and public safety,” Jemez District Ranger Brian Riley said. “Someone’s carelessness puts lives, property and natural resources at unnecessary risk.”
Most of the abandoned campfires – still the leading human cause of wildfire – are found at dispersed campsites, many of them along Forest Road 376, a popular corridor for campers from the Albuquerque metro area and elsewhere. Jemez District staff anticipated the Labor Day holiday crowds, and crews patrolled throughout the three-day weekend.
As the monsoon season draws to a close, conditions on the Jemez District are drying. As New Mexico’s own Smokey Bear, the most successful symbol of wildfire prevention, continues to celebrate his 75th birthday, fire managers are asking visitors to the SFNF to take Smokey’s message to heart.
If you plan to gather family and friends around a campfire this fall, please do it safely by following Smokey Bear’s campfire safety procedures. If you need a visual, watch this Forest Service video on YouTube. Never leave your campsite until the fire is completely extinguished and cold to the touch.
The SFNF has been conducting a public awareness campaign both online and in person, handing out brochures and posting flyers at campsites, to help educate people on the proper way to start and – more importantly – put out a campfire. While the vast majority of forest visitors camp responsibly, the handful that do not put the forest and surrounding communities in harm’s way. Please don’t be responsible for the next human-caused wildfire.