Campfires Tahoe’s biggest threat

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Tips for using, putting out campfires

Abandoned campfires that aren’t properly doused are the biggest wildfire threat in the Tahoe Basin, according to USDA Forest Service, and are also one of the most preventable. In the Tahoe region, campfires are only allowed in metal fire rings in designated campgrounds (fires using a ring of rocks are not allowed).

Use these tips for safely building and putting out a campfire. Find more tips at

Before you build a fire

  • Check with the local, state or federal agency that manages the campground where you are camping to see if fires are allowed. Restrictions may vary by agency and location and can change daily or hourly depending on conditions.
  • Keep open fires and fuel-burning appliances far enough away from the tent to prevent ignition from sparks, flames and heat.
  • Never use a flame or any other heating device inside a tent.
  • Have a shovel and bucket of water nearby before lighting a fire.
  • Keep fires small and bring firewood purchased locally. Firewood brought from another area could bring invasive pests.
  • Don’t burn dangerous things like aerosol cans, pressurized containers, glass or aluminum cans, which can explode, shatter and/or create harmful fumes or dust.
  • Never leave a fire unattended.

Put out the fire completely

  • Allow the wood to burn completely to ash, if possible.
  • Put out a campfire by slowly pouring water onto the fire and stirring with a shovel.
  • Continue adding and stirring until all material are cool to touch.
  • If it’s too hot to touch, it’s too hot to leave.
  • Do not bury your fire. The coals can smolder and re-ignite for hours.

 Read Tahoe Guide’s 4th Annual Wildfire Preparedness Guide