Abandoned Campfire

Living in Alberta, we all know how disastrous a forest fire can be. Some of you might have been personally affected by the devastating fires in Fort McMurry or in Slave Lake. Brian knows personally how dangerous forest fires are because he used to be a forest firefighter. Many of us at Tree Time have walked though the remains of a burned forest and have seen what is left behind.

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Figure 1. An area that was partially burned by a forest fire

So when Brian and I were working the in foothills around Rocky Mountain house and we saw the remains of a smouldering fire, we took it seriously.

We noticed the smoke in the morning as we walked to our first target. The campfire had been abandoned, likely by people camping during the May Long weekend. This means it was likely burning unattended for three days. It looked like people had been burning garbage in the fire pit, including a mattress. The mattress frame was smoking heavily. The ground around the campfire was also smouldering a bit, and somewhat hot. The area around the pit was clearly burnt.

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Figure 2. Note the burnt ground under Brian’s feet clearly outside the intended fire pit area

We put out the frame with water from a nearby creek. It was so hot that it caught fire again as soon as the wind touched it. Back at the campfire, we used our shovels to dig up the earth around the firepit and in the pit itself. Brian told me that he had fought many fires during the May Long weekend that started in this exact way. Not because of people burning garbage, but because of abandoned fires. People might think that they put out their fire, but debris (roots, moss etc) on or under the ground can catch on fire and spread the fire beyond the stone rings. You can see in the pictures that the area around the campfire has been burned.

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Figure 3. Brian digging up earth around the fire pit to put out the fire

That is why it is so important to make sure that you have properly put out your fire. Please check out the Alberta Parks Website for great advice on campfire safety.

http://www.albertaparks.ca/albertaparksca/advisories-public-safety/outdoor-safety/campfire-safety/

http://www.ofc.alberta.ca/camping-and-outdoor-fire-safety

Also if you need to report a wildfire, call 310-Fire (3473). Never put yourself in danger.

We thought we would share this story in advance of the long weekend to remind people about campfire safety. Alberta is a great place and camping is an amazing way to experience it. So from us at Tree Time, we sincerely wish you a great long weekend and happy, safe camping.

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Author: bromano

I am an archaeologist with Tree Time Services Inc. conducting Historic Resources Impact Assessments in Alberta. I first gained experience in Alberta working as a field technician excavating at the Quarry of the Ancestors. This experience deepened my appreciation for the province’s rich heritage and prompted me to pursue more work in Alberta. I have experience in archaeology around the world and in other parts of Canada. I have excavated in Greece, as a student on the Pylos-Iklaina Archaeological Project and as a volunteer for the Kastro Kallithea Archaeological Project. I have also excavated in Ontario on the Mackenzie 2, Electric Woodpecker 1 and 2 sites. I extensive experience conducting research in an academic setting during the course of my Bachelor’s and my Master’s. I have also gained research experience as both a Research Assistant and as a Teacher’s Assistant using a wide variety of materials. This includes experience in archival research. I worked for the University of Alberta at their Alberta Land and Settlement Infrastructure Project. During my time there, I examined thousands of scanned microfilm reels concerning early homestead records. This has not only greatly expanded my knowledge of Alberta and its various communities, but the homesteading process and what life was like for Alberta’s early settlers. I have also work experience in museums. As an interpreter for both the Kenosewun Museum and Captain Kennedy House Museum in 2008 and 2009, I was responsible for interpretive program development including tours, special events, and displays. I conducted and coordinated research with my assistants on a variety of subjects, ranging from local histories to native fauna and flora. I have also volunteered in atlatl exhibition at the Bodo Archaeological Society’s open house and I welcome any other opportunity to help with community outreach.

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