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This week I had the opportunity to visit Camp Liahona, Clark Fork. The area is still an active fire zone meaning we needed a permit to visit. As we got closer to the burn area I was reminded of the end of the world movies where it is difficult to see or hear any living thing. There was total destruction and not a bird of animal in sight. I admit I began to cry. How could it all be gone and how did Camp Liahona survive?
I helped collect items to try to salvage from the smoke damage and walked around with those making lists of items too damaged to save. After a time our work for the day was complete, although there is still much to do, and I took the opportunity to visit the chapel. We found a smoldering root and proceeded to dig and drench it with lots of water. Roots can smolder for weeks or months and cause a new fire. As I stood in the chapel area I was overwhelmed with the sight. Pictures cannot begin to represent what occurred there. The fire burned up to the pinecone border yet did no damage to the benches just two or three feet away.
Camp was kept safe due to the diligence of campers, youth leaders, priesthood leaders and administrators who followed safety protocols.
All of this reminded me we can all prevent this destruction. How?
Travel Carefully: Small sparks can lead to thousands of acres being destroyed.
- Check brake pads. Thin brake pads may cause sparks as you drive down the road.
- Be aware of dry vegetation and branches along the roadside. Never park close to or over vegetation along the roadside, even for a few minutes.
- When towing a travel trailer, boat or cargo van secure the chain so it does not drag on the ground causing sparks. Secure the chain.
- Do not allow a tail pipe or muffler to drag on the ground.
- Maintain the proper tire pressure. Low pressure may cause wheel rims to be exposed causing sparks,
- When building a fire be sure to build on a flat surface in an area cleared of leaves, pine needles and twigs.
- Clear an area ten feet around your campfire. Remove anything that may to flammable. It does not matter that the last campers did not clear the area, just do it. The only building that burned at Camp Liahona was a new one where the area had not yet been cleared.
- Place rocks as a non-flammable boundary around your fire.
- Pile firewood away from the fire. Place them far enough away that you need to get up to add more wood to the fire.
- Take a large bucket or large stockpot when you pack for your trip. Fill pot and keep it near your fire. If you are building a larger fire have more than one available for dousing a fire that gets out of control.
- When lighting a fire toss the used match in to the bucket of water.
- Always take a shovel when camping.
- Never leave a burning fire or one that has not been properly extinguished.
- Check at a ranger station for an APP that will warn you of fire dangers before you leave home. Also ask if there is cell coverage in the area so you can receive alerts.
Properly extinguish campfire and fires in a grill:
- If using charcoal for cooking immerse them in water when you have finished making s’mores.
- Drown campfire with water.
- Use your shovel to move rocks, which may be harboring embers.
- Using a shovel move around the fire embers.
- Add more water and stir again.
- Feel fire to make sure it is cool.
- Dig a little more to determine if there are roots on fire. Remember smoldering roots can cause a fire hours or days or weeks after you leave.
- If you do not have sufficient water to extinguish a fire use dirt from the surrounding area to smother the embers.
Be aware of your surroundings:
- Drought has been a challenge in many areas and insects have been killing trees that have been weakened. Look up and do not build fires near dead and dying trees.
- Trees that have been weakened may fall. Set up tents away from these trees.
- Look for widow makers, branches that may be dead even when the tree is not. These branches can fall causing injuries and even death, thus, widow makers.
- Park vehicles in opening not under trees.
- Bring an ax in the event a limb falls and needs to be cut up.
- Go prepared, as cell phone coverage may be sparse or non-existent.
- If you are cutting trees in a high-risk area do not use a chain saw.
- If you are hiking in a high-risk area do not smoke.
A campfire caused the Donnell Fire, which caused all the destruction around Camp Liahona. It destroyed over 36,000 acres.
Before you leave to camp or hike please read thru these guidelines and prepare to be safe and to keep our forests safe and preserved for future adventures and future generations.
To the girls who love Camp Liahona, yes, Maximus is “alive” and well!
For more help preparing for weather disasters, evacuations, medical emergencies, job loss and more visit Carolyn’s facebook page. Share, comment and ask questions.