Tag Archives: fire restrictions

Excuse Me, Sir

Standard

As I’ve mentioned before, the forest I’m in is experiencing a very strict fire ban. One of the restrictions is that people are not allowed to smoke outside. Smoking is only allowed in a vehicle with the windows rolled up to within an inch or so of the top. (Although smoking is allowed in buildings, neither my campground or the parking lot has a building suitable for smoking.)

The ban on outside smoking was not my decision. It was not the decision of my boss or his boss. The Forest Service made this rule, and I’m just doing my job telling people what’s up.

I hate having to approach people in the process of smoking cigarettes. (It’s always cigarettes people are smoking, never pipes or cigars.) I know people are addicted to the things, and I know they’re not going to be happy when I tell them they can’t get their fix in the open air. (See http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2016/08/06/no-smoking/ to read about a woman who went from overly friendly to vicious when I told her she had to get into her car to smoke.) I approach smokers very, very cautiously when I’m about to tell them what they’re doing is against the rules.

I don’t yell across the parking lot at smokers. I get within speaking distance, but not close enough to get hit if the smoker gets violent. I am extra polite right before I thwart smokers. Usually I say, Excuse me, sir (or ma’am). I have to tell you (meaning, I certainly don’t want to tell you this, but I am required to), we are in a very strict fire ban right now (giving them the reason for the upcoming bad news.) You are only allowed to smoke in your vehicle with the windows rolled up. Then I try to get away from the smoker as quickly as possible.

Most smokers comply, probably because most of them think I’m a ranger or at least a Forest Service employee who can write a ticket. But no one has said, What wonderful news! I’ve been looking for a reason to quit.

On the second Saturday in August, I had to speak to two men puffing away.

The first guy was a senior citizen with white hair and a short white beard. He was wearing fancy hiking clothes, and looked sort of like Santa Claus on a forest vacation. I glanced over at the Santa man standing by his car and thought I saw smoke. (With the popularity of vaporizers, sometimes what I originally think is smoke turns out to be vapor. Asking a person vaping to quit smoking is embarrassing, so I try not to make that mistake.) I looked over again and was pretty sure it was a cigarette Santa man had going on over there.

I got out of my chair and walked toward the man. When I was within speaking range, I said, Excuse me, sir. I have to tell you, we’re in a very strict fire ban right now.

Before I could say anything else, he started walking toward me and said, I’m very cautious.

I’m sure any person smoking in a National Forest would tell me s/he is very cautious. Saying it–believing it–does not make it true. I didn’t see what–if anything–Santa man was using as an ashtray. I’m not sure he was letting his ashes fall to the ground, but I’m also not sure he was catching them in a container. He was standing on the asphalt while he smoked–maybe that was his idea of cautious.

As I went on to tell him he was only allowed to smoke in his car with the windows rolled up, he walked over to the trashcan and threw away his cigarette butt. Apparently, I’d noticed him at the end of his cigarette.

The second smoker was middle aged and completely bald. He was wearing what I can only describe as “dressy casual” clothing–long shorts and a shirt with a collar. Perhaps his clothing was suitable for golfing? He was standing on the asphalt too, but near the entrance gate, puffing away in front of God and everybody.

I walked up to him. Excuse me, sir. I have to tell you, we’re in the middle of a strict fire ban. You’re only allowed to smoke in your car with the windows rolled up.

I saw the look of unhappiness on his face as he stalked away from the gate. (I think he was heading back to his vehicle to finish the cigarette, since he didn’t stub it out.)

There should be a sign! he spat at me.

I thought about pointing out the press release about the fire ban posted on one of the information boards, but I couldn’t remember if it addressed smoking or just campfires. I didn’t really want to have a discussion with the guy; I just wanted him to stop smoking out in the open. So I said, Yes, you’re right, there should be.

Then he said, because you’re defying one’s privacy!

What? Defying one’s privacy? Defying his privacy? Ummm, how is it private to smoke a cigarette out in the open, in front of God and everybody? Did he mean I was defying his privacy by speaking to him? How is a sign telling him smoking is prohibited different from me telling him smoking is prohibited? Since I didn’t want to have a discussion with the man, I didn’t question him.

My boss came by later, and I told him about the interaction, told him the man had said we need a No Smoking sign. My boss laughed and said soon we’d have more signs than trees. He probably won’t get us a sign, and I’ll have to continue to defy people’s privacy.

IMG_3370

I took this photo of Smokey the Bear.

No Smoking

Standard

She was suspiciously happy when she drove her car into the parking lot. She was practically bouncing up and down in her seat when I asked her if she were there to see the trees. I was glad to see someone so excited to walk the trail.

She was polite to me, answering my questions with yes, ma’am and no, ma’am.

She was concerned with the people in the car behind her, which included her passenger’s mother. She wondered if the mother had money to pay the parking fee, seemed ready to pony up if the folks in the other car had no cash.

She was acting like a really nice person.

She parked her vehicle near the front of the lot. All I had to do was turn my head, and I could see it. She and her passenger got out of her car and gave parking advice to the driver of the second vehicle.

I glanced over and saw a plume of smoke. My eyes followed the smoke to the cigarette, followed the cigarette to the mouth of the suspiciously happy woman.

I took a few steps closer to the smoking woman.

Excuse me, ma’am, I said. I have to tell you that smoking is only allowed in your car with the windows rolled up. The fire ban is very strict right now.

The woman wasn’t happy anymore.

She said something along the lines of Are you shitting me? She sounded angry.

Then she spat out, I have a five month old baby! I can’t smoke in the car!

According to http://www.no-smoke.org/learnmore.php?id=616, since 2008, it’s been illegal in California for adults to smoke in a car when people under 18 are present.

Maybe the once happy, now angry, woman was referencing that law, or maybe she was concerned about the infant’s health. Or maybe she was just using the baby as an excuse because she didn’t want to smoke in the car with the windows rolled up. In any case, she seemed really mad.

Well, you could not smoke, I told her mildly. Or you could sit in the other vehicle (I gestured to the small pickup the passenger’s mother had arrived in) to smoke. Or you could take the baby out of your car before you get in to smoke. (The passenger could have supervised the baby while the driver sat in the car and smoked.)

She’d quit listening to me. She was pissed off because she couldn’t have her cigarette when and where she wanted it.

I went back to my chair. I wasn’t glad I’d ruined her day, but I was glad I’d stopped her from adding to the fire danger.

Sadness and Bribery

Standard

It was the first weekend of the fire ban, and already people were unhappy about not being able to have campfires.

One guy pulled his saddest face before he even got out of his truck. He was full of questions, delivered in a sad little tone of voice, as if maybe I’d feel sorry for him and tell him he could go ahead and have a campfire anyway.

But why was there a fire ban? he wanted to know. The campfire was his favorite part of camping.

I tried to explain that California is five years into a drought. (How do people from California–as this man was–not know about California’s drought?) I tried to explain how it’s really dry in the forest and the fire danger is high.

He wanted to know how much rain we’d need before the fire ban is lifted.

I don’t know, I said. A lot.

I don’t know if he thought a small shower would make campfires ok again. He must have no idea how the fire ban works. He must not understand that the Forest Service (probably someone high up in the Forest Service) makes the fire ban decision, not me. Even if it had started raining bears and chipmunks, the Forest Service is not going to lift the fire ban on a weekend and send someone out to my campground to let me know so I can tell my campers it’s now fine to light up the fire wood.

The sad man’s friend assured me they weren’t going to break any laws. I told him I was mostly concerned with not burning down the forest.

On one side of the campground, two sites were taken by two middle age Latino bothers and their families. The first family was good-natured about the rule against campfires, although one ten-year old boy did ask, How will we make s’mores?

When I went to the other brother’s campsite, I immediately saw a jumbo bag of charcoal, a sure sign this family knew nothing about the fire ban (or was at least hoping they could claim to know nothing about it). These people obviously had plans for that big bag of charcoal, and it was my job to thwart those plans.

I told the man about the fire ban. He didn’t get rude; in fact, he stayed friendly, but I could tell he was quite disappointed.

He looked at me sadly and said, I was going to share our carne asada with you, but now we won’t have any.

Bribery! He was trying to bribe me with food. Here was a man who somehow knew how to get to me–food! Now maybe if he had said carnitas…

It was my turn to look sad, thinking of the carne asada I wouldn’t get to eat. I shook my head and said, We all have to sacrifice…

I choose the longevity of the forest over the fleeting pleasures of a meal.

Fire Ban

Standard

We’ve reached the point in the season where campfires are banned. Of course, that means I was putting out a campfire the day after the ban went into effect. Even without a ban, I’d have been putting out this fire because it was left unattended. Seems like a bad idea to me, to leave a fire unattended, in a drought, while fire danger is high, but I guess it seemed reasonable to the folks from Maryland who’d started the campfire.

I was patrolling the campground for the hosts on their day off. I was driving slowly through the facility, looking for campers who needed to be checked-in. I saw the reservation tag on site #9, indicating the campers had arrived the day before, the first of the camp hosts’ two days off. The campers must have come in after I’d gone through around two o’clock. I saw a vehicle parked on the site and two tents pitched near the picnic table, but no campers. I figured everyone was still asleep, even though it was 10:30 and the sun had been up for hours.

I was about to drive off, when I noticed smoke rising from the fire ring on site #9. I couldn’t blame the people for not knowing about the fire ban, since they hadn’t officially been checked in, but I was annoyed they’d left their fire smoldering when no one was outside with it. Then I saw flames rising from the fire ring. This wasn’t the remains of a fire smouldering; this was a bonafide fire.

I parked my van and hopped out. As I approached the campsite, I called out Good morning! and Hello! I received no response.

I’m going to put out this campfire now, I called out. Still no response. That’s when I realized the campers had not simply left the campfire unattended by going into their tents. These people had left their fire unattended by totally leaving their campsite.

I had about a gallon and a half of wash water in the van, so I poured that on the fire. The wood sputtered and sizzled. The water boiled. Great clouds of dirty smoke billowed from the fire ring. But a gallon and a half of water isn’t enough to make sure a fire that’s been burning strong is dead out.

I drove my van to the camp hosts’ site, looking for a five gallon bucket I could fill with water. One of the hosts was waiting for me, pajama clad and wild haired, eyes still looking sleepy. I told her what was going on. She told me that she thought the campers–a father and his two daughters from Maryland–had gone to walk the trail. Wow! They’d left not just their campsite, but the entire campground with not just hot ashes in the fire ring, but full-on flames. How did that seem like a good idea?

I hauled about four gallons of water to site #9 and dumped it all into the fire ring. (When putting out an illicit fire, it’s good to leave everything too wet to support another fire any time soon.) The wood sputtered and sizzled more, and the new water boiled. I used a big stick to stir the soupy mess. Once I felt confident the fire wasn’t going to spring back to life or release ember or hot ash, I walked away.

I wasn’t done with my job, however. I wanted to leave a courtesy notice so the campers would know why their fire ring contained soggy logs and mud.

I grabbed a red pen to fill out the notice.

I checked the box next to Due to fire danger, please do not leave fires unattended. You must put all fires out completely. In the margin, I wrote Never leave fires unattended.

Then I checked the box next to Other and wrote in Complete ban on wood and charcoal fires. Fires NOT permitted.

Finally, near the bottom of the notice, I wrote You need fire permit to use stove with on/off switch.

I hoped all of that information would clue them in to what was going on.

As I told the other camp host sarcastically, This is where the fun begins…If you thought collecting extra vehicle fees was fun….

Now the check-in process will take longer, as we must verbalize all the new rules: No wood or charcoal fires. Stoves must have an on/off switch. Permits are required to use stoves. Smoking is only allowed inside vehicles with the doors closed and windows up.

And since some people are going to start fires anyway, camp hosts have to be alert for the sight and (mostly) smell of illicit fires. We will have to douse those fires and listen to the whining of campers: I didn’t know. We were cold. We were going to put it out after we cooked dinner. What are we supposed to do at night without a campfire to sit next to?

I’ll not share my reactions with campers, but in the privacy of my mind, I’ll be thinking: There are signs announcing the ban all over the forest. Put on your jackets and hats. You should have brought your propane stove. Get in your tent and have some sex.

IMG_6616

I took this photo.

To read stories of campers and last year’s ban on campfires, go here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/07/27/fire-restrictions/, here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/11/15/what-do-people-do/, here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/11/13/but-were-cold/, and here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/09/18/where-theres-smoke/.

 

 

 

 

 

What Do People Do?

Standard

It was my last day as a camp host, and I’d been busting my ass. I spent the morning checking in campers and making sure all the restrooms had toilet paper. I spent several hours in the afternoon working at the parking lot, which was busy for so late in the season. I was tired when I got back to the campground, and I still had to drive back to the parking lot right before dark to empty the iron ranger. I was trying to complete as much of my paperwork as I could so I’d have less to do after collecting the last of the self-pay envelopes.

I was sitting at the desk in the office/garage when a tall young man with curly hair approached me. He told me (in an accent I couldn’t identify but which marked him as a non-native speaker of English) that his party (“we,” he said, which turned out to be him and his wife) had a reservation for site #4 but were concerned because there was no bear box on the site. He wondered if they could have site #6 instead. Site #6 wasn’t reserved and I really didn’t give a damn where they pitched their tent, so I told him sure, no problem. I said they should go ahead and set up on site #6, and I’d come around when I finished what I was working on and get them to sign their permit.

The young man seemed happy with my willingness to let them camp on the site they wanted. As he was leaving, he said, We’ll have to bother you later for some firewood.

Oh no! They didn’t know about the fire ban. They thought they’d be buying wood from the camp host (me!) and spending the evening in front of a toasty fire. Apparently it was going to be my job to burst their bubble.

I shook my head and told him no fires were allowed anywhere in the National Forest. I told him I had no wood to sell because campfires were prohibited.

He stood there and looked at me as if in shock. He wanted to know how they would cook. He wanted to know how they would stay warm. I told him campfires were not allowed. I told him campfires were prohibited. No campfires. No campfires. No campfires.

He said he was going to get his wife. I don’t know if he thought he and I had a language barrier and his wife (with her presumably superior English language skills) would understand my words as something other than no campfires. I don’t know if he thought his wife and I would have some female bonding, and I’d give her permission to have a fire. I don’t know what he thought, and while I didn’t mind talking to his wife, I knew whatever his wife had to say wouldn’t change anything.

The two of them were soon standing right inside the garage/office. The woman was short, with curly hair pulled back. Both were wearing shorts and tank tops and sandals. Both seemed, if not athletic, outdoorsy. The woman spoke with no discernible accent.

She said “the website” said they couldn’t bring firewood into the National Forest and should buy it from the camp host. (Campers often referred to “the website” when I gave them information they didn’t like. “The website” said the campground had water. “The website” said the nightly camping fee was $12. Apparently people don’t realize that not every website with some information about a campsite is the official website with official, accurate information. Apparently some people do believe everything they read on the internet and forget that much information on websites is old, and while perhaps correct when posted, is currently wildly inaccurate.)

The wife said the woman on the phone who’d made their reservation hadn’t mentioned a fire ban. I agreed that the woman should have mentioned the fire ban, but I couldn’t allow them to have a fire just because they hadn’t been told about the ban in advance.

I mentioned the signs throughout the National Forest which boldly proclaimed No Campfires. They claimed to have not seen a single one of them.

The couple started to grow a bit frantic.

They’d been in the car for many hours, the wife told me. They were hungry. How were they going to eat? I suggested they cook on their camp stove. Of course, they didn’t have a camp stove. (I wonder what they’d planned to do if it had been raining or snowing and they couldn’t get a fire started or keep it going.) I suggested they might want to go to the restaurant two miles down the road. They ignored that suggestion. It was getting cold, she told me. How would they stay warm, he asked, without a campfire? (I didn’t mention socks, long pants, long sleeves, jackets, and hats might be a good start for staying warm…in the mountains…in October.)

They kept talking in circles. They hadn’t been told. They didn’t know. How would they cook? It was cold. What would they eat? No one had told them. How would they stay warm? They didn’t know. The website didn’t say. They were hungry. They’d been in the car. They’d be cold. The lady hadn’t said. They couldn’t cook without a fire. They were hungry. No one had told them. It was cold.

Finally, I told them they could have a fire if they were on private land, since the fire ban only applied to National Forest–public–land. Then (of course) they wanted to know where to find a private campground where they could stay.

Honestly, the only private campground I knew of was at least twenty miles away, and I didn’t know if their season ended after Labor Day weekend of if they were still open. I suggested they go to the little community nine miles north and ask around about a private campground in the area where they could have a fire. (I also let them know there was at least one restaurant in the community, but I think they were hellbent on cooking over a fire.)

I was trying to be compassionate and helpful, but I got really annoyed when I realized they expected me to solve problems which were caused by them being totally unprepared. The bottom line was that no matter how (or how often) they explained their problems and no matter how compassionate and helpful I was, I was not going to allow them to have a campfire. And a campfire was all they really wanted.

As they were finally about to leave, the young man looked at me sadly and asked, What do people do at night if they can’t have a campfire?

I kept my mouth shut, but I thought, Buddy, you and your wife must not have a very happy relationship if you have to ask me what you should do at night to pass the time if there’s no campfire to sit next to.

When I mentioned the situation to another camping couple, the man looked lovingly at his lady partner and while snickering, said, I know what we do to stay warm.

To read more stories of campers and fire restrictions, go here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/09/18/where-theres-smoke/, here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/11/13/but-were-cold/, and here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/07/27/fire-restrictions/.

We Were Cold

Standard

My last days as a camp host were some of the hardest.

After Labor Day, the company I was working for had me move to the large campground where I’d started as a camp host. Even with a golf cart, thirty-two family campsites and seven group campsites made for a lot of ground to cover. I had sixteen vault toilets to keep clean, and I was still working at the parking lot, which involved a twenty-four mile daily commute.

The temperature dropped, and I was cold, especially at night. I could barely get myself out of bed and dressed in the morning without firing up my Mr. Buddy heater. (To read more about my Mr. Buddy Heater, go here: https://throwingstoriesintotheether.wordpress.com/2015/05/08/staying-warm/.)

The campers were cold too. People were not happy when I told them the fire ban was still in effect and campfires were strictly prohibited. Folks were begging me to allow campfires, and some of them were probably considering offering me a bribe (which wouldn’t have worked.) I stood firm. I was not going to let a campfire slip by and be responsible for a wildfire.

One weekend I checked in three groups, two on group campsites and the third on two side-by-side single campsites. They all claimed ignorance of the fire ban, and none or them were the least but happy when I told them about it. However, someone in each party signed a permit on which I had written “no fire–wood or charcoal.”

On Saturday evening, I left the campground and drove to the parking lot to empty the self-pay envelopes from the iron ranger. It was dark when I returned to the campground.

As soon as I turned off of the highway and pulled into the entrance to the  campground, I smelled something. Sniff! Sniff! What was that smell? Sniff! Sniff! Someone had a fire burning!

I turned the truck into the group campground area. I had two sites occupied by parties of young men–and I do mean parties. I’d seen the alcohol being unloaded. I’d seen the ladder golf setup in the middle of the parking lot. I’d seen the one guy in the giraffe suit. (Please do not ask me to explain this cosplay because I simply cannot.) I suspected I’d find the fire in that area.

I stopped the truck near the first occupied campsite and peered through the darkness. I saw a flickering light, but determined it was from a propane lantern (which was allowed) and not a prohibited campfire. I slowly drove the truck around the curve to the next campsite and saw the fire.

The young men were on an unfortunate campsite for having an illicit campfire. There was no hiding what they were doing, as the fire ring was in full sight of the road.

I got out of the truck and walked over to the group of young men.

Is that a campfire? I asked. (Not my finest opening line, I do admit.)

Well, said the very short man I soon realized was the ringleader, it’s hard to tell.

I told the group that campfires were not allowed.

We were cold, the short man said.

I told the group that Mr. Lee (not his real name) had signed the permit and knew campfires were not permitted. Hadn’t Mr. Lee told them that campfires were not permitted? They admitted that Mr. Lee had told them campfires were prohibited, but they were cold.

Where is Mr. Lee? I asked the group.

Uhhh…They thought he was sleeping. I thought he was standing over there, in the shadows, by the tree. Luckily for Mr. Lee, I didn’t have a clear memory of his face, and it was dark out there, so I wasn’t sure if he were standing close by.

I gave the young men a stern lecture on forest fires and responsibility and monetary cost and the loss of animal and human life. I told them they’d probably face a stiff fine if I had to get the Forest Service involved.

One guy was kind of dancing around and apologizing and assuring me they’d put the fire out.

I knew the fire was going out. I knew I was going to put the fire out before I left the campsite. I knew they’d have to put on more clothes or get into their sleeping bags because we’re cold did not override a complete fire ban covering the entire National Forest.

I knew I had a five gallon bucket in the truck, so I walked over to fill it from the water tank in the truck’s bed. The short guy said he’d help, and he followed me.

The whole time we were waiting for water to fill the bucket, he told me he understood if people couldn’t have fires in the summer, but now it was cold people should be allowed to have fires. I tried to explain that the forest was till in danger because it was dry, that the danger hadn’t gone away just because it was no longer hot. All he cared about was not being cold, and I had little sympathy because all I cared about was not burning down the forest. I don’t think we reached any kind of mutual understanding.

He offered to carry the bucket of water back to the campsite, and I let him. I figured since he started the fire, the least he could do was carry the water to put it out.

I poured the water over the fire, pretty much putting it out, then filled a second bucket with water and dumped that on the remains of the fire. I wanted to make sure not an ember, not a spark, was left to blow away and cause trouble.

Those young men must have been really cold early the next morning when the temperature dropped and the precipitation started. Last I saw them, they were runny through the icy rain, hurriedly packing their cars so they could return to their (presumably) warm homes.

To read more stories of campers and fire restrictions, go here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/09/18/where-theres-smoke/, here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/11/15/what-do-people-do/, and here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/07/27/fire-restrictions/.

Where There’s Smoke…

Standard

The camping season may be coming to an end, but my first weekend back in the big campground was a busy one. On Friday night, I only had three regular campsites rented (and six of twenty-eight rented on Saturday night), but I had four group campsites (with 14, 16, 17, and 31 people on them) occupied.

The golf cart had a leaky tire, which by Thursday evening was too flat to roll, so on Friday afternoon after I worked my four hour shift in the parking lot, I walked all over the big campground to check-in everyone. It’s not much of an exaggeration to say that in this bigger campground, it’s a farther walk from my van to the nearest restroom than it was to walk from one side to the other of the smaller campground where I lived and worked. So by dark on Friday night, I was tired.

When I got into bed a bit after dark on Friday, the folks who’d reserved group site C had not arrived. I hoped maybe they wouldn’t show because I had plenty of work without them. However, when I got to that side of the campground on Saturday morning, site C was definitely occupied by an extended Latino family.

The man who’d made the reservation was still asleep, I was told by his wife, whom I’d happened upon in the parking area. I got the information for the permit from her and told her about the fire ban that was still very much in effect in the National Forest. When I told her no campfires were allowed, she seemed disappointed, but agreeable.

I walked over to another campsite to ask a question of the camper. The woman there asked, We’re allowed to have campfires?

When I said no, she pointed to the campsite I’d just left. From where we stood, we could see smoke streaming from that site. I said I’d investigate. I thought maybe we were seeing smoke from breakfast cooking on a portable gas appliance, but the woman who’d pointed out the smoke said the campfire had been going all night.

I walked back to the campsite with the alleged fire. I found the woman with whom I’d spoken only moments before, the woman I’d told explicitly no campfires. I told her I saw a lot of smoking coming from her campsite and asked if they’d had a campfire. By this point I was on the campsite and could see smoke drifting from the fire ring. Busted!

The woman admitted they’d burned a few acorns (I think she meant pine cones), but said they hadn’t brought any wood to burn. I told her I’d get a bucket of water to put out the remnants of the fire.

Thankfully, one of the other camp hosts was in the campground, driving the company truck to pick up trash. No way did I want to carry a five gallon bucket of water (that’s over 40 pounds, folks, awkwardly carried with one hand holding a flimsy handle) all the way from the water tank to campsite C. I filled the bucket, and the other host lifted it into the back of the pickup. He drove us over to site C and even offered to carry the water to the fire ring. I walked over with him.

When we walked right up to the fire ring, I saw it did not contain the remains of a few acorns (or pine cones). In the ring was a rather large charred piece of wood. No wonder there was so much smoke. (And we all know, where there’s smoke, well, if there’s no longer fire, you can bet there was fire earlier.)

As my co-worker dumped the water on the hot remains of the fire, several older women wrapped in blankets and sitting at a picnic table nearby began shouting No! No! No! in Spanish. I told them having the fire was illegal, but my co-worker started talking over me, telling them about the fire ban I was perfectly capable of explaining. (Thanks for the sexism, dude! I guess that’s what I get for not being able to carry my own 40+ pound bucket of water.)

Of course, the campers claimed they didn’t know about the fire ban, although

#1 There are “No Campfires” signs throughout the forest, including at the front of the campground they were staying in.

#2 The state has been suffering a drought for four years.

#3 Coverage of nearby wildfires is all over the news.

I can’t say I really believe they didn’t know they shouldn’t build a fire.

When I went back later in the morning to get the man who’d made the reservation to sign the permit, I said to his wife, No more campfires, right?

She said, Oh,no!

I decided if I found evidence of another campfire during their stay, I was turning the situation over to the Forest Service.

IMG_3466

I took this photo of my campground’s fire ban sign.

I found no evidence of fire on that campsite during the rest of that family’s stay. I guess they got the message.

To read more stories of campers and fire restrictions, go here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/11/15/what-do-people-do/, here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/11/13/but-were-cold/, and here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/07/27/fire-restrictions/.