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Old 09-06-2020, 02:57 PM   #1
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Boondocking during wildfire season------

This appears to be another huge wildfire season out west. I'm getting ready to head out for a couple of week long boondocking trips that will take me into our state's National Forests that are not just dry, but the forecast calls for not just high heat but 20-30 mph winds in some areas. Two fires are burning currently in our main NF, one LARGE and one small. Both will be a safe distance from me and my campgrounds have good emergency egress routes.

I look for campsites that have water next to them and I was always taught to have a bucket and shovel with me. Check and check for my next trips. I also check both for nearby incidents and weather reports before going. I also prefer to leave my trailer hooked up although should leveling be an issue I merely unhitch and pull the truck about a foot forward so I can lift or lower tongue if necessary. Makes for a quicker hookup and "bug-out" if necessary.

My question is what do others do to make sure they're safe during the fire season where they are boondocking?
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Old 09-06-2020, 04:06 PM   #2
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We try to not camp where wildfires are close. An allergy to smoke means we camp far away. Please be careful, they are helicoptering people out of some of these areas. Since fire travels uphill and that's where the evacuation roads were located, there was no escape except by air.

However, we always camp with a good weather radio and a local radio (hopefully tv) and always know what county we are camped in. We also find the local tv station on our phones.
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Old 09-06-2020, 04:11 PM   #3
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Old 09-06-2020, 04:24 PM   #4
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We try to not camp where wildfires are close. An allergy to smoke means we camp far away. Please be careful, they are helicoptering people out of some of these areas. Since fire travels uphill and that's where the evacuation roads were located, there was no escape except by air.

However, we always camp with a good weather radio and a local radio (hopefully tv) and always know what county we are camped in. We also find the local tv station on our phones.
I'm with you on the first part. Closest fire (right now) is over 100 miles from my camping area on Tuesday. That said, I am in the woods, they're dry, and fires seem to start wherever they want (sometimes with help from humans).

The evacuations in CA were what started me thinking more about egress routes. In both of my planned camping areas they are downhill and on roads that aren't overgrown with timber or brush like some roads I've ventured up/down.

I wish a weather radio would be useful where I camp but for some reasons it doesn't want to work in the mountain valleys. Ditto for Cell Service.

As for smoke, campfires often produce more smoke at ground level than distant fires although I've found California can certainly belie that.
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Old 09-06-2020, 04:53 PM   #5
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Boondocking during wildfire season------

Great conversation - with many interesting thoughts shared.

While no two situations are alike, I remind my family and friends that camping within eye (even distant smoke) sight of any wildfire is a reason to take pause, and the notion of anyone evacuating a strange area along dark, smoke filled remote roadways is a recipe for disaster.

That much offered, please remember your RV has no value. None. Itís the people in and near it that are priceless. Donít hesitate to sacrifice your trailer, towed vehicle, motorhome and every possession - all of it, if it means you getting away safely and early.

Speaking from professional experience: When wildfire threatens, leave early. You donít need permission to evacuate - and if youíre waiting for someone to tell you, youíre waiting too long.

Please be safe - and be #ReadyForWildfire! At home and away.

https://www.readyforwildfire.org/pre...cuation-guide/

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Old 09-06-2020, 05:00 PM   #6
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Great conversation - with many interesting thoughts shared.

While no two situations are alike, I remind my family and friends that camping within eye (even distant smoke) sight of any wildfire is a reason to take pause, and the notion of anyone evacuating a strange area along dark, smoke filled remote roadways is a recipe for disaster.

That much offered, please remember your RV has no value. None. Itís the people in and near it that are priceless. Donít hesitate to sacrifice your trailer, towed vehicle, motorhome and every possession if it means you getting away safely. Safely and early.

Speaking from professional experience: When wildfire threatens, leave early. You donít need permission to evacuate - and if youíre waiting for someone to tell you, youíre waiting too long.

Please be safe - and be #ReadyForWildfire! At home and away.

https://www.readyforwildfire.org/pre...cuation-guide/

Mr Brian

Wise words.
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Old 09-06-2020, 05:09 PM   #7
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While stationed at Ft Lewis in the early 80s we use to Boondock a lot near Snoqualmie and White Pass (Dog Lake, La WisWis, etc). Loved those areas and the fishing was great. I hate to see that the Wildfires are an issue now. We never seemed to have any problems.
Wish you the best on your upcoming camping trips.
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Old 09-06-2020, 05:52 PM   #8
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We are leaving Tuesday for a two week trip to South Dakota and Eastern Montana. Our first stop is in Bozeman MT and just this morning on the news a new wildfire with evacuations near Bozeman was reported. The fire is burning just NE of town but I believe out RV park is closer to town.

Not the boondocking type of trip, this is more of a tourist/sightseeing trip so we are staying in RV parks. However, mostly our local camping is either on our own property or campgrounds, both are in the forest. Like you I always carry a bucket and shovel but mostly I pay close attention to the surrounding area. I live rural in a wooded area so fire safety is always on my mind. I like Mr. Brian’s comment on you don’t need permission to evacuate. I have a list handy here at home with reminders of everything to grab in a level 3 evacuation because I know under the stress of a close by fire I’ll forget something.

Funny story, Shortly after hearing about the Bozeman fire I received an email from the Bozeman RV park. My first thought was, “oh crap, the park is being evacuated”. But it was just a reservation reminder, whew!

Enjoy your trip and hopefully we will get some rain soon.
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Old 09-06-2020, 07:11 PM   #9
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While an RV has no value relative to lives, it is an amazing tool for saving livesóif you evacuate early, and donít wait for the disaster to be at you retractable doorstep.
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Old 09-07-2020, 01:31 PM   #10
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Fire drill?

This is somewhat related.

Has any family attempted an RV fire drill? Almost all of us have that funny window with the red handle. It's often over the bed, and the sill is probably six feet from the ground.

Your first impulse would be to belly-crawl prone to the window and just dive out--a recipe to drop six feet land on your head. On reflection, I would like to go feet first, bend at the hip and let my legs hang down, grasp the sill and lower myself to the ground.

Has anyone tried this?

Has anyone practiced this?

How about the rest of the family? DW? Kids?

I come from an industrial environment where OSHA required annual fire drills--and they were timed. If the evacuation took too long, we did it again. It seems foolhardy to not practice this in the trailer, at least once.
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Old 09-07-2020, 01:31 PM   #11
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I would think about subscribing to the local Nixle for the area in case it might work.
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Old 09-07-2020, 02:53 PM   #12
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Wildfires are nothing to fool with. Here in Alaska there are normally Wildlife Troopers in the areas where campers are. They will let you know when it's time to go. We've had good luck with walkie-talkies using the NOAA channel, but situational awareness is key. Do your due diligence before you select a campsite. Here is a State Campground from last August. Everyone got evacuated to the highway. This damage was done in less than 30 seconds from the onset.
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Old 09-07-2020, 05:52 PM   #13
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I live just a few miles from the El Dorado fire currently raging in San Bernardino County and the smoke pall is bothersome. Got caught once needing to evacuate and could not because of traffic. All of which is to say one should take all the precautions laid out by Mike in his post and mostly to say if you think you maybe need to go , you are already too late.

Just get up and go and camp some where else or go home, but GO.

El Dorado Fire: https://patch.com/california/banning...campaign=alert
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Old 09-07-2020, 07:33 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Larry-NC View Post
This is somewhat related.

Has any family attempted an RV fire drill? Almost all of us have that funny window with the red handle. It's often over the bed, and the sill is probably six feet from the ground.

Your first impulse would be to belly-crawl prone to the window and just dive out--a recipe to drop six feet land on your head. On reflection, I would like to go feet first, bend at the hip and let my legs hang down, grasp the sill and lower myself to the ground.

Has anyone tried this?

Has anyone practiced this?

How about the rest of the family? DW? Kids?

I come from an industrial environment where OSHA required annual fire drills--and they were timed. If the evacuation took too long, we did it again. It seems foolhardy to not practice this in the trailer, at least once.
The escape window in my TT is directly across from the entry door. Unless the fire is directly outside the door there would be no difference between using door or escape window. That said my escape window is very convenient for a feet first exit.

A "Fire Drill" for me would be a solitary event. Not even a dog to account for.


On this note, I have purchased and keep handy a much larger Fire Extinguisher than what comes with most RV's.

One like this:



$69 on amazon and the 10# size is only $19 more than a 5# size ($50).

The fire extinguisher that comes with most RV's may be OK for putting out a fire that starts in your frying pan but once it spreads it's a little wimpy. Perhaps my "10 pounder" is a little large but it still fits in the same corner and I'd rather have an extinguisher that's too big for any fire I might have than too small. Better yet, no fire to begin with.
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Old 09-07-2020, 09:37 PM   #15
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We always considered our old TT to be an integral part of our emergency evacuation plan. Fortunately, we had an RV spot for it at home. Every time we came home from camping, the black and grey tanks were emptied and the fresh water tank was filled. The vehicles were always at least half full. We had an extra full propane tank at home we could throw in if needed. We always had canned and dry foods on board which we rotated on a regular basis. We also had extra clothing, bedding, etc.
We lived in the Sierra Nevada foothills between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe. We never were required to evacuate but whenever we heard of a fire anywhere near us, we would go ahead and load up just like it was an evacuation order, just in case it started looking bad. I would back the pickup along side of the garage, load up the generator, fuel cans, spare water cans, then back up to the TT, hitch up and pull into the driveway ready to go. In the meanwhile, the DW would have pulled the 72 hour packs from by the door and put them into her car, load up the cats in their carriers and put them in the car and was ready to pull out. Total time: 8 minutes.
Unfortunately, we moved 14 months ago to Bakersfield, CA and live in a house with an HOA that wonít let you park your TT in front of the house for more than 4 hours. Since the old trailer was getting long in the tooth and didnít have all the powered niceties someone in their 70ís appreciates we got rid of the TT. That lasted for about a year, then we couldnít stand it any longer and just got a new TT. We have it in a storage lot about 2 miles down the road. Problem is the gate is only open from 7 am to 7 pm, so itís not as convenient, but itís better than nothing.
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Old 09-08-2020, 12:17 AM   #16
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We are leaving Tuesday for a two week trip to South Dakota and Eastern Montana. Our first stop is in Bozeman MT and just this morning on the news a new wildfire with evacuations near Bozeman was reported. The fire is burning just NE of town but I believe out RV park is closer to town.
I think you will be ok.


https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/article/7144/55155/
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Old 09-08-2020, 01:34 AM   #17
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I like to use this website: US Forest Service BlueSky.

BlueSky shows the smoke trails of the forest fires. Last year (2019) I used it to plan a trip to areas clear of smoke.
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Old 09-08-2020, 05:26 AM   #18
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So it appears...according to the news that the fire where all those campers had to be evacuated by helicopter....was started by a "Gender Reveal Party" ??
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Old 09-08-2020, 05:38 AM   #19
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So it appears...according to the news that the fire where all those campers had to be evacuated by helicopter....was started by a "Gender Reveal Party" ??
Sad part is this is the second time I recall this happening.
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Old 09-08-2020, 07:44 AM   #20
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Thanks for the update. My neighbor drove thru Bozeman yesterday on his way home from South Dakota and he said it was raining nicely. Good news for the folks there.
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