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In dry terrain or heavily wooded areas, you should consider the necessity of building a fire. In emergencies or cold weather, particularly at night, a fire may be critical. At other times, a fire may not be necessary.

If you decide to build a fire:

Campfire with sticks forming a teepee
  • Be extremely careful to avoid starting a fire that can spread to surrounding grass.
    • Clear an area of bare dirt around the fire as a firebreak.
    • Place rocks around the fire to help contain it.
    • Watch out for flying ash and sparks.
    • Never leave a fire unattended.
  • Select a site where the fire’s heat will radiate into the shelter. Your sleeping area should be located between the shelter wall and the fire.
  • If there is snow on the ground, build the fire on a platform of green logs or rocks.
  • Gather everything you need before starting the fire. Pile downed wood ranging from small twigs to fuel logs next to the fire site.
  • Collect more fuel than you think you can use; you may need it.
  • Pile fine twigs, grass, or bark shavings loosely as a base. If you can’t find downed wood or dry kindling, shave dry wood from the inside of tree bark.
  • Place slightly larger sticks on the kindling until the pile is about 10 inches high.
  • If there’s a breeze, light one end of the kindling so that the flame is blown toward the rest of the fuel. Otherwise, light the kindling in the middle of the base.
  • As the flames spread to the larger twigs, slowly add more wood to the blaze. Add larger pieces as the fire grows.