Don’t let your campfire turn into a wildfire. The California Wildland Fire Coordinating Group offers advice on campfire safety.
First, get a campfire permit. Campfire permits are required to have a campfire or portable gas stove on public lands. Permits can be obtained from any CAL FIRE, Forest Service, or Bureau of Land Management station or office. During periods of high fire danger, campfires may be restricted.
To build an open campfire, select an open location away from fuels such as logs, brush, or decaying leaves and needles. Clear an area at least 10 feet in diameter. Scrape away grass, leaves, or needles down to the bare soil. Scoop a depression in the center of the cleared area in which to build the fire, and put a ring of rocks around it. Put wood, cut into short lengths, in the cleared area. The fire should be built no larger than necessary.
The campfire must never be left unattended, and the fire must be completely extinguished before leaving. Never leave children unattended around the fire. Always keep a shovel and bucket of water nearby.
To extinguish an open campfire, use the “drown, stir, and feel method.” Drown the fire with water, then stir around the fire area with your shovel to wet any remaining embers and ash. Be sure to turn wood and coals over and wet all sides. Move some dirt onto the fire site and mix thoroughly to fully smother the fire. Finally, feel the area with the back of your hand to make sure nothing is still smoldering.