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Memorial Day is here and for many Oregonians the holiday weekend is the start of their camping season in Oregon’s natural places. However, dry conditions are already present in many areas and Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) reminds visitors to enjoy their campfires responsibly.

“Regularly reviewing campfire safety practices, even if you’re a seasoned camper, is a good habit to get in to,” said Chris Havel, OPRD associate director. “It’s especially important if you’re camping with children or folks that are learning about responsible outdoor recreation.”

Follow these tips for a safe and enjoyable campfire:

- Know before you go: research conditions for the area surrounding your campground. Fire restrictions may be in place at the park, county or state level.

- Maintain campfire flames at knee height, or roughly two feet high. This helps prevent ash or embers from becoming airborne, especially during the dry summer months. If you see wind stirring up embers from your fire, play it safe and extinguish it.

- Only build campfires in the existing fire ring in your campsite. Fire ring locations are carefully picked and park rangers clear vegetation around rings to create a safe buffer zone.

- Always keep plenty of water nearby to extinguish your campfire. To put out your fire, drown the flames with water and stir the embers to make sure everything is wet. The stirring step is important: ash and wood debris often maintain heat and embers unless they are drowned out.

- Beach campfires should be started on open sand, away from driftwood or vegetation. Use water to extinguish your beach fire, not sand. Covering the fire with sand will insulate the coals, keeping them hot enough to burn unsuspecting beachgoers hours or even days later.

- For propane fire rings, follow the same safety precautions you would with a log-based campfire. Propane fire rings should be placed in, on or directly next to installed park fire rings.

- Make sure everyone in your campsite, even children, is familiar with campfire safety. Always keep an eye on your campfire; many accidental fires are started because campers left their fire unattended for “just a minute.”

To reserve your stay at an Oregon state park, head to oregonstateparks.org.

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