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By:    On: 2010-12-25

Like most campers I enjoy having a campfire when the opportunity allows. I really enjoy sitting there looking into the flickering and glowing flames. However, I don't have big fires, nor do I leave it going all night.

I was taught at a young age “Indian says white man stays warm getting warm, Indian stay warm crouched by fire.” This of course means the larger your fire the faster and more fuel it will burn. Thus you will stay warm going to the wood pile. The hottest part of the fire is not the flame, it is the coals. Also watch the colors blue and white are hotter then orange.

Obviously, you do not leave a fire going, not even the coals, if you are not watching them. As Smokey Bear says “only you can prevent wildfires”. Being near by and asleep is not considered watching the fire.

Under controlled conditions (not in camp) I have left the coals going all night. All it takes is some kindling like leaves, pine needles, paper, etc and some gentle air across the coals and the fire is going again.

Now to the point, how to tell if the fire is dead out. After you think you have put the fire out. Hold your hand flat, palm down, about 2 inches above the coals. Move your hand slowly around the fire pit to ensure there are no hot spots. You should feel very little heat. If there is heat, you need to add more dirt and water, until you feel more heat. The dirt may remain warm for a bit, but not hot.

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