By The Chronicle staff
According to the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, Independence Day should be a holiday marked by freedom and fun — not forest fires.
Forest Service officials in the Pacific Northwest released a list of tips for recreationalists to celebrate safely and make fire safety a part of the holiday festivities.
First, stated a news release, “All explosives and pyrotechnic devices, including fireworks and explosive targets, are prohibited on National Forests in Oregon and Washington.”
Violators who bring fireworks to National Forests and grasslands can be fined up to $5,000 and sentenced with up to six months in jail and may be liable for suppression costs and property damage, according to the statement.
Summer has arrived in the Pacific Northwest, and potential forest fire fuels are drying rapidly in most locations. Forest Service staff recommend guests check overall fire danger levels and public use restrictions in effect before visiting public lands.
When cooking outdoors, guests should use a fuel stove with an on/off switch to prepare hot meals. If campfires are permitted, coals should be kept inside a steel container or fire ring. Fires should never be left unattended. To extinguish a campfire, stir water into the ashes and break up any coals until the ground feels cold, according to the statement.
Another fire safety tip is that anyone towing boats or trailers should make sure tow chains aren’t dragging where they can strike pavement or rocks and cause sparks. Smokers should smoke in vegetation-free areas or stay inside cars and “never toss lit cigarettes from your vehicle,” read the statement.
It is best for guests to park on vegetation-free surfaces as the hot undercarriage of a car can set dry grass on fire. Bringing a fire extinguisher or several gallons of water when traveling in remote areas is recommended. Before using motorized equipment, such as chainsaws, dirt-bikes or off-road vehicles where allowed, test spark arrestors to ensure they are working.