Fire safety is paramount in Yosemite Mariposa County and the Western United States. Visitors and locals alike have to be steadfast in their efforts to prevent future events that destroy property and take lives. Most fires are started unintentionally by humans, and not always in ways you’d typically expect. Between the months of May and November, California receives little or no rain, so fire danger is always a threat, even when forests and meadows look green.

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No Ifs, Ands, Or Butts. Visitors who smoke must take extra precautions in our wild lands. This means observing restricted areas, being aware of days with High Fire Danger, and most important of all, fully extinguishing cigarettes before disposing of them in approved trash receptacles.

Car Trouble. Not the typical kind, but the risks that drivers pose in causing wildfires. RV’s and trucks should take care not to drag safety chains, which throw sparks. Drivers should never park on grass or dry foliage, and never discarded glass that can magnify the sun’s rays and touch off real trouble. In addition to preventing fires, keeping vehicles on designated roads and trails reduces compaction and permanent damage to our beloved meadows and forests.

Fireworks Ban. Forever and always illegal in our National Parks and National Forests, fireworks are not allowed even on the 4th of July. Fireworks are a major cause of our country’s wildfires, thus the enormous fines and jail time awaiting those who literally want to play with fire.

Campfire Do’s & Don’ts. Campfires figure prominently in our outdoor history. Once essential for warmth and cooking, the need for campfires has been diminished over time with the advent of lightweight sleeping gear and efficient camp stoves. Add to that the role improperly tended campfires play in sparking wildfires, and our need to take even greater care becomes urgent. If stoves are not an option, here are the do’s: only light campfires with official permits and in designated places; use existing fire rings and build small fires; only burn when you absolutely need to; let campfires burn all the way to ash, then put out with water, not dirt. Don’ts: don’t build fires next to rock outcroppings that will scar & blacken; don’t build fires where there is little wood to burn such as in higher elevations or in the desert.

Look for even more information on wildfires including fire’s role in the ecosystem, and links to resources to find out about specific wildfires and conditions in the region.