Campfire Safety

Before You Get Started
Start by getting a campfire permit. Get a print-ready permit quickly and easily by clicking the button below.

Campfire permits can also be obtained from any CAL FIRE, US Forest Service, or BLM station or office.

Your campfire permit is valid from the date issued until the end of the calendar year. They are required to have campfire or portable gas stoves on public lands.

Check to ensure there aren’t any local fire restrictions in the area. During periods of high fire danger, campfires may be restricted. Also, keep a shovel and bucket of water nearby at all times.

Camping Fire Safety - How to Build an Open Campfire
Select a level, open location away from heavy fuels such as logs, brush or decaying leaves and needles. Clear an area at least 10 feet in diameter (local regulations may vary). Scrape away grass, leaves or needles down to the mineral 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. Cut wood in short lengths, pile within cleared area and light the fire. The fire should be built no larger than necessary. Your fire must never be left unattended and the fire must be extinguished completely before leaving.

While the Fire is Burning - Open Fire Safety
Always keep a shovel and bucket of water nearby at all times. While the fire is burning, be sure there is a responsible person in attendance of the fire at all times. Never leave children around a fire unattended.

How to Completely 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 it. And finally, feel the area with the back of your hand to ensure nothing is still smoldering.
California Campfire Regulations & Restrictions
Health and Safety Codes
13007. Liability for Damage. Any person, who personally or allows another person to willfully, negligently or in violation of law, set fire to, allows fire to be set to, or allows a fire kindled or attended by him or her to escape to the property of another, whether privately or publicly owned, is liable to the property’s owner for any damages caused by the fire.

13008. Due Diligence Required. Any person who allows a fire burning upon his or her property to escape to the property of another, whether privately or publicly owed, without exercising due diligence to control such fire, is liable to the owner of such property for the damages to the property caused by the fire.

13009. Expense of fighting fires, liability for. Any person who negligently, or in violation of the law, sets a fire, allows a fire to be set, allows a fire kindled or attended by him or her to escape onto any public or private property will be financially responsible for the firefighting costs.

Public Resources Code
4103.5 Campfire Defined - “Campfire” means a fire which is used for cooking, personal warmth, lighting, ceremonial or aesthetic purposes. This includes fires contained within outdoor fireplaces and enclosed stoves with flues or chimneys, stoves using jellied, liquid, solid, or gaseous fuels, portable barbecue pits and braziers, or space heating devices which are used outside any structure, mobile home, or living accommodation mounted on a motor vehicle. “Campfire” does not include portable lanterns designed to emit light resulting from a combustion process.

4432. Neglecting Campfire - A person shall not leave a campfire, kindled or attended by him or her, burning or unextinguished unless one of the following requirements are satisfied: He or she leaves some person in attendance. The fire is enclosed within a stove, oven, drum, or other nonflammable container, in such manner that the fire cannot escape from the container. No person shall allow a campfire, kindled or attended by him or her to spread after it is built.

4433. Permits Required - A person shall not light, maintain, or use a campfire upon any brush-covered land, grass-covered land, or forest-covered land which is the property of another person unless he or she first obtains a written permit from the owner, lessee, or agent of the owner or lessee of the property. If, however, campsites and special areas have been established by the property owner and posted as areas for camping, a permit is not necessary. A written campfire permit duly issued by or under the authority of the United States Forest Service is necessary for use on land under the jurisdiction and control of the United States Forest Service.

4434. Campfire Escape - The escape of any campfire from the control of any person who is maintaining the campfire is prima facie evidence that such person was negligent in maintaining the campfire.