Maybe it’s the fact that I’m married to a firefighter. Maybe it’s that I know many volunteer firefighters. Or, perhaps it’s because one of my friends is an avid follower of Leave No Trace principles.
No matter the reason, I’m begging all of you planning to head into the mountains — or really anywhere — to please practice fire safety while you’re out and about.
If you have a campfire, follow basic fire safety rules. Don’t leave your campfire unattended and please, make sure the fire is out before you leave your campsite.
Even if you aren’t camping, make sure your tow chains aren’t dragging on the roads and throwing sparks. Those start fires too, along with cars that drive through tall grass, igniting that grass with hot tailpipes.
Fire danger is high in the Bighorn Mountains, which means the risk of fire is higher than normal. One lightning storm or one careless camper can cause a significant amount of damage.
Just ask the dozens of firefighters who spent Wednesday night, all day Thursday and most of Friday battling wildfires caused by a storm that moved through the area.
They spent that time away from their families, out of their comfortable beds and away from the other comforts of home.
As of Friday night, they were still battling blazes.
While most of us were sleeping, they provided protection for structures in the county and even across the state line in Montana. They risked their own safety to protect life and property.
Mother Nature causes enough fires on her own. Let’s not make the firefighters’ jobs any harder.
On Sunday, the Bighorn National Forest’s Facebook page indicated it had recently responded to two abandoned campfires at Freezeout Point.
While much of the news has focused on the destruction of Hurricane Harvey, those living in the West know fire season isn’t over. According to the Active Fire Mapping Program from the U.S. Forest Service, there are 50 large uncontained fires in the U.S. That count does not include ones like the grass fires that chewed through acres of prairie Wednesday night in eastern Sheridan County.
Each day, it seems, a new fire starts. Not all of them can be prevented as fire is a natural part of the ecosystem.
But let’s do our part to protect our resources and to keep our firefighters out of harms way.