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Safety 101: Fire pits, recreational fires

A March 25 fire serves as an important safety reminder.

Post Date:03/28/2018

A recent fire to which Poudre Fire Authority firefighters responded serves as a reminder of the importance of properly extinguishing recreational fires. 

An early-morning fire on March 25 displaced two adult residents and caused significant damage to parts of their single-story Laporte home. Please know that we value the opportunity to share information like this not to pass blame or to make worse an already difficult event, but to empower people to live their safest lives through education and awareness.

PFA firefighters were dispatched on March 25 to 2401 Island Place at 3:06 a.m. following a report of a tree on fire. The first-arriving crew got on scene at 3:14 a.m. and immediately went to work extinguishing the blaze.

PFA investigators determined the fire originated near a wood pile located on the home’s west side and was accidental, due to improper use and extinguishment of a recreational fire in an unapproved container. 

The container was located near a wood pile, surrounded by leaves and pine nettles, that sat between two large trees. The PFA investigation found the fire heavily damaged these items, ignited the home’s exterior and made its way into the attic. Firefighters stopped its further spread. 

Fires, such as those in fire pits, are a natural complement to outdoor living in Colorado. The following is information you can use to be as safe as possible while taking part in this favorite pastime: 

Question: What is an appropriate fire pit? 
Burning for the purposes of pleasure, religious, ceremonial, or cooking are allowed in either portable outdoor fire appliances or permanently constructed fire pits without a permit. Your fire pit must be located a minimum of 15 feet from combustibles or structures, which could be a home, fence, shed, etc.

Q: What can I burn? 
The fuel must be clean dry wood or charcoal. Do NOT burn trash or yard debris (weeds, grass clippings, leaves, etc.). Regardless of the size of the appliance or fire pit, the fuel package cannot exceed 3 feet in diameter or 2 feet in height.

Q: What about the flames. Should they be big or small? 
There is no stipulation concerning flame height.

Q: How do I properly put out a recreational fire, such as the one in my fire pit? 
Drench the fire with water. When the ashes are cooled, place them inside a fully metal container with a metal lid. Do NOT put them in a plastic trash bin, for example. 

Q: What is a spark arrestor, and do I need to do anything with one? 
A spark arrestor is a device that prevents the emission of flammable debris from combustion sources, such as fireplaces or wood-burning stoves. If an appliance is equipped with a spark arrestor or screen, it must be utilized to satisfy the listing for the appliance. Permanently-constructed pits will probably not have a spark arrestor. That’s okay.

Thank you for the honor and privilege of serving this community 24/7/365. Those with additional questions may contact Public Affairs and Communication Manager Madeline Noblett at

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