Campfires outlawed in Washington state

Trip Start Jun 15, 2013
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
Pendleton KOA

Flag of United States  , Oregon
Wednesday, August 28, 2013

I'm slowly working my way to the Pacific and decided Sunday, after leaving the campground next to the Ross Creek Giant Cedars in Montana, to go across the Idaho panhandle and into Washington state and stop at Newport, which is right on the Idaho/Washington stateline.  I checked in at the Newport KOA.  While the KOA lady was handling my credit card, I did notice a posting which said that campfires or use of briquettes was not allowed, only propane.  But the lady didn't mention anything about this, and there was nothing in the written information about it.  So, would they enforce it or not?  At my site there was some firewood left over from one of the previous campers.  Towards evening I decided to start my usual campfire using the left-over firewood.  There was hardly a person around, and I like to sit and look at the fire as darkness descends.  Well, after half an hour a KOA staffer in his golf cart drove by and told me that the state had prohibited campfires because of recent forest fires.  Oh, I didn't know that, I said.  We agreed that I would just let the fire die out, and that would be it.  But apparently he had a change of mind, for later he once again drove by and said he would have to put it out with water.  He drove back to get a hose and, like a real firefighter, put out my campfire in a couple of seconds. I said that half the joy of camping is the campfire at night.  He thoroughly agreed.  But I guess he was just doing his job.  How many forest fires have been started by negligent campers?  I bet none.  But some bureaucrats somewhere want to display their decisiveness and make life rotten for campers.   
The next day, Monday, I decided not to camp anymore in Washington.  I went back into Idaho and headed south.  And, lo and behold, just south of Coeur d'Alene (located on I-90) I stumbled on a most delightful campground with a perfect view of Lake Coeur d'Alene.  It was located 3 miles from the highway, and half of that distance was on a dirt road.  The well was low, so at site 14 a guy was responsible for distributing water to those who needed it.  He was resting in lounge chair and had the most beautiful campfire burning.  So did I - and others - after a while.  But first I went for a swim in the lake.  Idaho, apparently, has no problem with campfires. 
This morning I decided to head for a KOA campground in Oregon.  I needed WiFi access to send a birthday greeting to my oldest daughter, Anne, who will be 35 years old tomorrow, August 28.  She is an art historian and is currently working on her ph.d.-thesis.  It's a three-year project, and she is now entering the third and last year.  It was a very nice drive.  First through forests, then through abundant grain fields, and finally on prairie land.  Today I drove app. 200  miles along country roads in southwesterly direction.  Rita and I went to 13 states.  I have added 9 more for a total of 22.   
When registering at the Pendleton KOA I asked if they sold firewood.  The gentleman at the front desk said that the city had prohibited campfires but I could burn charcoal at the barbecue stands.  So, I purchased a bag of charcoal and am headed to Safeways to buy a steak for dinner tonight. Oregon apparently has no problem with campfires but, of course, right here we are far from forest land.         
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P Tanzy Maxfield on

Enjoyed your campfire post. We in Truckee, CA, Reno, NV, etc., have been breathing and looking through smoke from the America Fire and the Rim (Yosemite) fire for a few weeks now. I've noticed the wood smoke smell has lost that wonderful camping feel. Since we heat by wood stove all winter, I'm hoping the aversion to the smoke smell will dissipate as the forest fires are extinguished and we can return once again to the pleasure of a wood fire. Thank you again for sharing your experience.

P Tanzy Maxfield on

It's all in the context.

Andy Engel on

Unfortunately, the operative word is "responsible." Although I am sure responsible campers make sure the campfire is extinguished, many others leave the fires burning. Suddenly a gust of wind arises and a fire starts. Even though I am not a big believer in government intervention, some irresponsible folks make it necessary.

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