I was around sixteen years old. Out camping in a forest for a survival badge. I remember being woken up at 3 in the morning by my fellow scout ( we were divided up into pairs). Tired and confused I reluctantly rose out from our survival shelter to see the entire forest lit up in a haze of orange smoke…
It took me a while to digest the scene that was unfolding before my eyes. Whereas, my buddy, Tristan, being slightly older and more experienced, ran off to call for assistance. Massive Blue Gum trees and Pines were crackling under the flames. There were scouts everywhere, probably as shaken as I, scrambling about to try fight the fire.
The cause and aftermath:
That night, just like the previous one, we were required to make a fire to cook our very limited rations on. We were out in the woods, alone. One of the pairs of scouts had made a fire under a tree. Thinking they had sufficiently extinguished the fire, they went off to bed like the rest of us.
But naively, and as these things go, some of the thicker pieces of logs had a burning ember still within it. The wind picking up blew that small piece of coal enough to cause a flame, and within several hours it had spread tens of meters; resulting in a mighty ground fire and multiple burning trees.
The adult helpers arrived, and together with the scouts (there was around 30 of us. ) we spent the early morning patting down the burning grass and debris with thick rubber sheets. A nearby river provided water that we carried up with buckets to extinguish the trees. The sun had risen by the time we had stopped the fire; but the damage was clearly visible. Fortunately nobody got hurt and we detected the fire early enough before it could become uncontrollable or worse.
- Ensure the area around the fire is cleared. Remove any logs, leaves, clothing and other objects that might catch alight and cause the fire to spread.
- Always attend the fire. Once the fire is on there should always be somebody keeping an eye on it.
- Keep a bucket of water or sand close by. And use it to extinguish the fire at the end. The fire should be cold out. Meaning you can put your fingers where the fire used to be.
- If a fire breaks out, do not panic. Call for help, try prevent it from spreading by removing anything that might catch a light. Try your best to extinguish the fire, but without putting your safety at risk.
This past Wednesday the scouts had some fun using fire extinguishers.
Originally published at scoutwithin.me on February 25, 2017.