Park ranger reminds being cautious when lighting and putting out fires

LEWISTON, ID - The temperatures have spiked in the last 24 hours, and heading outside seems more inviting than ever.

KLEW news spoke with a Hells Gate State Park official, who explains that fire safety remains in place despite recent rains.

We've experienced a deficit in the rain gauge... then the streets of the L-C Valley were flooded Wednesday evening. Assistant Manager Jeff Smith at the Hells Gate State Park said the recent heavy rain makes the park a bit greener but that's about it."

"You don't realize that with this dry soil that we have, sandy soil, that you put some heat on it and you have some dry grass from the fields that will be tinder dry in a day or two," said Smith.

Which puts the fire danger right back to where it was according to Smith. He advises those coming out to enjoy Hells Gate State Park or any other park in the region to be cautious when lighting fires and putting them out.

Having a fire directly on the ground, can cause underground fires where heat follows the roots of a tree and can go undetected for a week. But keeping a fire contained in a fire pit keeps the logs contained and the embers from flying anywhere.

"It can be deceiving because we have had the rain, it is moist, we do have the irrigated lawn so it's nice and green," said Smith. "Just across the road we have a lot of dry, natural fields that have a lot of dead material from last year."

Smith said the irrigated grass at the park acts as a minor retardant to potential flames, but should embers spread to nearby natural lands, there's potential for substantial damage.

Rules and regulations for camp fires differ from each state park so be sure to check in with the local park ranger when you head out.
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