Campfire Safety

The Forest Service has been managing wildland fire on National Forests and Grasslands for more than 100 years. But the Forest Service doesn’t – and can’t – do it alone. Instead, the agency works closely with other federal, tribal, state, and local partners. Fire is now a more critical management tool than ever as the threat to property increases and the evidence of the ecological importance of natural fire becomes more established. When conditions are correct and specific management needs warrant change, forest managers allow fire to once again play a role in forest and grassland health. However, human safety is always the first consideration whether fighting fires or using fire to restore a natural process.

To report a wildfire: Call 9-1-1

Campfire Safety

There’s nothing quite like enjoying the great outdoors with a roaring fire, your friends and a starry night sky. But that campfire is also a big responsibility. The National Forests in North Carolina need your help preventing wildfires so more visitors like you can enjoy this experience on our public lands for years to come. That’s why it’s important to learn how to be safe with your campfire.

Follow these tips from Smokey Bear to be safe around a campfire:

  • Picking Your Spot
    • DO NOT build a campfire if the campground or area rules prohibit them.
    • DO NOT build a campfire in hazardous, dry conditions.
    • Take wind, and its direction, into account when choosing the site. Choose a spot that’s protected from gusts.
  • Preparing Your Spot
    • Clear a 10-foot-diameter area around the site. Remove any grass, twigs, leaves and firewood.
    • Dig a pit in the dirt, about a foot deep. Circle the pit with rocks.
  • Building Your Campfire
    • Make sure you have a source of water, a bucket and shovel nearby at all times.
    • Gather wood from the ground. DO NOT cut whole trees or branches, dead or alive. Live materials won’t burn, and you’ll be damaging the forest. The three types of wood to use: Tinder: Small twigs and dry leaves, grass and needles. Kindling: Sticks smaller than 1″ around. Fuel: Larger pieces of wood. Keep these stacked upwind, away from the fire.
    • Keep the fire small and under control.
  • Maintaining and Extinguishing Your Campfire
    • DO NOT burn dangerous things like aerosol cans, pressurized containers, glass or aluminum cans. They could explode, shatter and/or create harmful fumes or dust.
    • Once you have a strong fire going, add larger pieces of dry wood to keep it burning steadily.
    • Pour lots of water on the fire. Drown ALL embers, not just the red ones. Pour until hissing sound stops.
    • If you do not have water, stir dirt or sand into the embers with a shovel to bury the fire. Scrape any remaining sticks and logs to remove any embers with your shovel. Make sure that no exposed or smoldering embers.

Remember: If it’s too hot to touch, it’s too hot to leave.

Campfire safety poster


Current Campfire Restrictions

Nanthala National Forest

Pisgah National Forest