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Campers not properly dousing campfires in NW Wyo.

Tuesday - 8/13/2013, 10:40pm  ET

BOB MOEN
Associated Press

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) -- Despite dry conditions in northwest Wyoming, National Park Service and Forest Service rangers and staff are finding abandoned campfires that have not been properly doused.

So far this summer, 132 smoldering campfires have been discovered in Grand Teton National Park and the adjacent Bridger-Teton National Forest in northwest Wyoming, federal officials say.

"It is a lot because we're only midway through our fire season and to have that many negligent people is quite disconcerting," Bridger-Teton spokeswoman Mary Cernicek said.

About 20 citations for abandoning smoldering campfires have been issued just in Teton County alone, Cernicek said Tuesday.

Yellowstone National Park, which neighbors Grand Teton, doesn't have numbers yet for this year's abandoned campfires, according to spokesman Dan Hottle.

The fine for an abandoned campfire is $225, but campers can also be held liable for suppression costs if their campfire becomes a wildfire.

Grand Teton Park spokeswoman Jackie Skaggs said park officials are "scratching our heads" as to why some campers are being so irresponsible with their campfires, which must be cold and wet before being considered extinguished.

The Park Service posts instructions at campgrounds on the proper way to put out campfires. There also signs with the latest fire conditions in the park.

Currently, Grand Teton's fire conditions are rated "high" while Yellowstone is "very high."

Both parks have active wildfires, which were started by lightning, but the fires are in remote areas and not threatening any facilities or visitors.

Skaggs said it's important that campers help in preventing fires now because Grand Teton has sent several of its fire personnel to other large fires in the region.

"We're kind of holding our breath, hoping that things will remain relatively calm here and that we won't be calling on those resources because they're already out on other major fires throughout this region," she said.

Cernicek also noted that fire conditions shouldn't determine how campers should put out campfires.

"Even if you were in a low fire danger it doesn't mean that there's no fire danger at all," she said. "You do have a chance for your fires to spread."


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