Rangers fought two fires this week
Lightning, campers started forest fires
Forest Rangers in the Adirondacks fought two separate wildfires in the past week — one lasting seven days caused by a lightning strike, the other lasting a few hours, caused by a campfire left unextinguished.
Rangers were still at the scene of a 5-acre fire in the Hammond Pond Wild Forest Tuesday, but at that point, the fire, first reported on Thursday, June 24, had been reduced to a “patrol status.” This means a ranger checks the blaze every day, waiting for all the natural fuels to burn out.
DEC Region 5 Forest Ranger Captain Chris Kostoss said rangers had dug a control line surrounding the fire, removing flammable organic material and setting up a ring of mineral soil to block in the blaze.
A 0.3-acre fire near the Wash Bowl in the Giant Mountain Wilderness on June 23 was caused by campers at an illegal site failing to fully extinguish their campfire, Kostoss said.
According to the state Department of Environmental Conservation, later that evening, a ranger identified two subjects from the town of Otego as the subjects and issued six tickets for multiple state land violations.
For smaller fires, Kostoss said rangers extinguish everything inside the control line. For larger ones, they extinguish to a set distance from the control line to prevent further spread.
Kostoss said around 10 forest rangers and DEC staff fought these two fires.
Fire safety tips
Kostoss said campers should fully extinguish their fires with water until they’ve turned the ashes into mud. He suggested using the back of a hand to test if there’s still heat from the coals.
“Never leave a campfire unattended,” he wrote.
Wind can spread a fire quickly, so the DEC advises people to build fires in campfire rings if possible or to keep a 10- to 15-foot ring around the fire clear of all flammable material: branches, leaves and dry grass. The state also advises building near overhanging branches, steep slopes and rotten stumps.
“Open fires are a very inefficient means of cooking and warmth while primitive camping,” Kostoss wrote. “Instead of relying solely on fires, invest in high quality recycled ‘puffy clothes’ to stay toasty. If you really enjoy the nostalgia of a campfire, check out one of the many beautiful DEC campgrounds. The hardened sites and established masonry fire places allow for safer campfires.”
Kostoss also suggested always have a means of extinguishing the fire on hand: a shovel or water bucket.