fire pan, fire blanket?

9:41 p.m. on July 11, 2007 (EDT)
(Guest)

Ive always camped on private land, building huge bonfires all my life. I recently decided to camp at a park, in a secluded area. They have informed me that I cannot start a campfire unless I use a fire pan or fire blanket. Where can I find these?

Ive done a search, and found pie pans. But nothing for a fire blanket. Can I make my own? Am I using the wrong terminology to search? Is there something im missing?

-Confused Nate

1:29 p.m. on July 12, 2007 (EDT)
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There is a discussion of this on the Leave No Trace website (www.lnt.org, and that's lnt as in Leave No Trace).

Basically, a fire pan is just a metal pan on which you can build a fire without damaging the vegetation underneath. You can use one of the oil drip pans you get at an auto supply store, although if the fire burns down to the metal, it will heat the vegetation and scorch the grass. But at least the ashes are contained and can be disposed of properly (again, see the LNT website for disposal methods). You can also support the pan above the ground to keep the heat away from the ground vegetation. One of the portable fire boxes works as well (I use one for our historical re-enactment demonstrations that I got from Cabela's).

A fire blanket is basically just a tarp that you lay down and pile sand or non-organic soil on top of, then build the fire on top of that. When done with the fire (and it is completely out), the sand is returned to the original location after disposing of the ashes as before. This is also discussed on the LNT website and in their publications.

But more generally, given all the problems introduced by campfires (among which is destruction of the downed wood that would otherwise decay back into the soil, providing habitat while it is decaying and returning nutrients in the decay process to the soil), it is environmentally more sound to use a stove for cooking (be it a sheepherder's stove which still uses wood, a charcoal stove, or a white gas or compressed gas stove). If the goal is sitting around after dark, you can actually see the stars a lot better with no fire. If it is warmth, it is environmentally more sound to take the right kind of clothes in the first place and put your jacket on.

Yeah, yeah, I know. Part of the mystique is sitting around the crackling flames and telling tall tales. There is a fascination with watching the continually changing aspects of the flames of a wood fire that you don't get with a gas flame. But, ya know what? Mosquitoes are attracted to warmth and CO2, so the fire will bring the fire-sitters more mosquitoes - West Nile, equine encephalitis, malaria (yes, malaria is making a comeback in the US).

3:43 p.m. on July 12, 2007 (EDT)
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I'm surprised they allow fires at all. Many parks and other jurisdictions here in CA don't allow fires in the backcountry at all due to the extreme fire danger. The recent fire at Tahoe that destroyed dozens of homes may have been started by an illegal campfire. The big fires we have had in SoCal in the past few years also had manmade sources, including one started by a lost hunter in 2003. That fire, known as the Cedar Fire, burned over 720,000 acres, destroyed more than 3600 homes and killed 15 people.

Once a campfire gets out of hand, those are the kinds of consequences that can happen.

4:59 p.m. on July 12, 2007 (EDT)
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The reason for California having such bad fires is because conservationists go overboard and do not allow mother nature to burn enough, so when she finally does you see fires like that one that burn over 700k acres.

6:07 p.m. on July 12, 2007 (EDT)
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Thanks for including the LNT info, Bill. I couldn't get on their site last night when I first wanted to respond.

LNT's section on how to "Minimize Campfire Impacts" is at:
http://lnt.org/programs/lnt7/campfires.html

6:23 p.m. on July 12, 2007 (EDT)
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This is one of the arguments made regarding the Tahoe fire. There is considerable debate about it, so I would not be too quick to place blame on conservationists. California conditions have been particularly bad due to drought over the past few years, plus the bark beetle infestation that has killed so many trees. Even if there had been burns, the possibility of catastrophic fires is still there, which warrants a ban on campfires.

10:03 p.m. on July 13, 2007 (EDT)
(Guest)

Thanks for the info guys. No worrys about a fire getting out of hand at the moment. Here in Oklahoma weve had so much rain most campsites around the state are under water. I just want to stick by the park rules sense im on their land.

Thanks again!

10:32 p.m. on July 13, 2007 (EDT)
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Nate, Just goes to show that where you are and when makes all the difference-which is one reason why more detail in a question helps the poster get the right answer quicker.

12:59 p.m. on July 23, 2007 (EDT)
(Guest)

Thanks Tom, but my original question gave all the information necessary. My regional information was not necessary. I was simply asking about those 2 campfire devices.

Thanks for those who replied!

11:35 a.m. on August 29, 2007 (EDT)
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SnowPeak makes a 'fire blanket' and it's fire retardtant material that's light enough to pack. I used one for over 5 years, then my pack got stolen with it in it and I have'nt replaced it to date. Made it simple to make a small fire, with minimial damage to the environment. Shaking it out into the woods spread the ashes around so they were'nt concentrated in one place. Always clear the ground down to hard soil under your blanket or pan so as not to kill off the top layer of soils' beneficial bacteria, replace the topsoil whne you move on.

December 22, 2014
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