Campfire stock

SHERIDAN — The Bighorn National Forest Supervisor implemented Stage One fire restrictions starting at 12:01 a.m. Monday, June 28.

Despite recent moisture this past weekend, a continued drying trend is anticipated and fuels have been at a record level of dryness. Competition for firefighting resources will continue to be high, and one abandoned campfire could cause a large fire.

“With increasing seasonal fire danger, we are implementing these restrictions to protect public health and safety,” Bighorn National Forest Supervisor Andrew Johnson said. “These fire restrictions will remain in place on the entirety of the Bighorn National Forest until further notice. Our fire managers will continue to monitor conditions and if they improve, we will reassess the restrictions. Coming in and out of fire restrictions is not feasible over short periods of time, and we appreciate the public’s understanding of the potential fire situations.”

Under Stage 1 Fire Restrictions the following are prohibited:

  1. Igniting, building, attending, maintaining or using a fire (includes fires fueled by charcoal or briquettes) outside of a permanent metal or concrete fire pit or grate that the Forest Service has installed and maintained at its developed recreation sites (campgrounds and picnic areas). EXCEPT: The use of a stove or grill solely fueled by liquid petroleum fuels, or a fully enclosed metal stove, grill or sheep herder type stove with a chimney at least 5 feet in length and a mesh screen spark arrestor with a screen opening of ¼ inch or less.
  2. Smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle or building, or in a developed recreation site, or while stopping in an area at least three feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable materials.
  3. Operating a chainsaw without an effective and properly installed USDA or Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) approved spark arrestor, a chemical pressurized fire extinguisher (with a minimum eight oz. capacity and rating of 2A) kept with the operator and a round point shovel with an overall length of at least 35 inches readily available for use.
  4. Blasting, welding, or operating acetylene or other torch with open flame without being in a cleared area of at least 10 feet in diameter and keeping a chemical pressurized fire extinguisher (with a minimum eight oz. capacity and rating of 2A) with the operator.
  5. Using an explosive. This includes but is not limited to fuses, blasting caps, fireworks, rockets, exploding targets, tracers and incendiary ammunition.
  6. Personal, portable wood or charcoal burning fire pits/rings, often made of stainless steel, are not allowed under these restrictions. Campfires are only allowed in USDA approved and installed fire pits/grates, or gas-fueled devices with an on/off switch.

Violation of these regulations is punishable as a class B misdemeanor, by a fine of not more than $5,000 for an individual or $10,000 for an organization, or imprisonment of not more than six months, or both. Anyone negligently or willfully starting a wildland fire could also be held responsible for the costs of that fire.

Almost 90% of all wildfires on public lands are started by humans. It is every forest visitor’s responsibility to recreate responsibly and follow best practices. To report a fire call 9-1-1. As we near the Fourth of July holiday, visitors are reminded that fireworks are never allowed on federally managed lands.

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