A cigarette hit the pavement of U.S. 95 and bounced around still smoking.
I couldnt believe it. The driver in the car ahead of us tossed a lit cigarette out the window with wildfires burning all over the state.
How can anyone not have a clue about fire danger?
To date, there have been 100 human-caused wildfires on lands managed by the Boise National Forest, the Boise District of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and Idaho Department of Lands this year.
That compares with a 10-year average in those areas of 59 human-caused fires and 110 caused by lightning.
EXTREME FIRE DANGER
I dont know how you can walk on crunchy, dried grass and other vegetation in our deserts and forests without having a clue about extreme fire danger.
How anyone can leave a campfire burning and go home is mind-boggling.
How anyone can drive across tall, dry grass with a motor vehicle makes you wonder.
How anyone can go out target shooting in undeveloped grassy and rocky areas, rather than at a developed shooting range or an indoor range, blows your mind.
And how anyone can toss a burning cigarette out a car window? Thats just plain stupid.
Anyone worth their salt outdoors knows about fire danger, especially here in the West. The only thing I can think of is that everything dried out faster than normal this summer and folks werent expecting fire danger to increase so fast.
We usually think about extreme fire danger in August and September. But it hit earlier this summer.
If youre going to be camping in the next few weeks, why not forget about having a campfire. Its not worth the danger and worry. Why not do all your cooking on a gas stove on the picnic table at a developed campground.
But if you do have a campfire in a fire ring in a designated recreation area, put it out when you leave it, if the wind comes up or if you go to sleep.
Here are some tips from Smokey Bear (smokeybear.com):
- Allow the wood to burn completely to ash, if possible.
- Pour lots of water on the fire and drown all embers, not just the red ones.
- Pour the water until the hissing sound stops.
- Stir the campfire ashes and embers with a shovel.
- Scrape the sticks and logs to remove any embers.
- Stir and make sure everything is wet and the ashes and leftover wood are cold to the touch.
- Dont bury the fire. The fire will continue to smolder and could catch roots or duff on fire that will eventually get to the surface and start a wildfire.
If the fire is too hot to touch, its too hot to leave.
Well said, Smokey.
Pete Zimowsky: 377-6445, Twitter: @Zimosoutdoors
Statesman outdoor writers Pete Zimowsky and Roger Phillips alternate columns on Sunday. Look for Roger next week.