The Ketchikan-Misty Fiords Ranger District today announced restrictions on materials that may be burned in campfires in the Ward Lake Recreation Area. The burning of wood pallets, construction materials with nails or hardware attached, and treated wood is now prohibited.
District Ranger Jeff DeFreest says pallet burning has been a concern for some time.
“The pallet fires tend to burn hotter than regular wood fires because it’s dried wood that’s made into the pallets and often times is oak or hardwoods. They burn very hot so often times they’ll scorch trees, if it’s in a campfire ring, or they’ll scorch the building like the three shelters we have out at Ward Lake. It also can do damage to the fire rings themselves which are steel and have a grill or grate on top of them. The hot fires can overheat those and cause some deformation of the steel.”
DeFreest says damage caused by the excessive heat is not the only concern. Burning pallets and treated wood poses a safety hazard.
“My employees, when they’re having to clean out fire pits, if it’s a natural fire and it just has ash in it, it can be removed and disposed of in the trash. When it’s a fire with other debris in it – in this case nails, staples and so on – it often requires that they have to be very careful that they don’t hurt themselves when getting unknown debris out of the fire pits and fire rings. Also, the material has to be disposed of at the landfill which costs us money in our already dwindling recreation budget.”
DeFreest says some firewood is available from the campground hosts at Signal Creek. They ask for a donation. He says people can also bring their own firewood, available at local grocery stores and other businesses.
Individuals violating the restrictions can be fined up to $5000 and organizations up to $10,000. A prison sentence of not more than six months may also be imposed.