Siphoning Gas = Motorhome Fire

Last weekend emergency responders were called to a Delta (British Columbia) gas station where a motorhome was fully engulfed in flames.

Siphoning Gas = Motorhome Fire (Source: global.ca)
Siphoning Gas = Motorhome Fire (Source: global.ca)

At about 3 a.m. on March 15, police and fire found two male victims at the gas station in critical condition. A female victim reported fleeing from the fire was later found at a New Westminster address. She was treated for severe burn injuries to her face.

Delta Police investigators believe that the three people were injured while attempting to steal gas from the in-ground fuel tanks.

Once parked over the station’s holding tanks, the suspects then removed a trap door in the floorboards of the motorhome and accessed the tanks.

Siphoning Gas = Motorhome Fire (Source: theprovince.com/photograph Graphic, PNG)
Siphoning Gas = Motorhome Fire (Source: theprovince.com/photograph Graphic, PNG)

Police estimate that the suspects siphoned hundreds of litres of gasoline from the in-ground tank into a large plastic storage tank inside the motorhome. During the siphoning process an unknown ignition source ignited the on-board gasoline, resulting in the fire and severe injuries to the victims.

“Typically, gasoline stolen in this fashion is subsequently sold on the black market for a substantial discount over pump prices,” said Delta Police spokesperson A/Sgt. Sarah Swallow, in a statement to the media.

“This case is by no means the first of its kind and it illustrates the potentially devastating impact of this type of criminal behaviour. This method of obtaining gasoline poses inherent dangers to innocent bystanders, first responders, property, and the suspects themselves.”

Police spokesperson added that the investigation is ongoing, and the suspects face several potential charges, including theft over $5,000.

Worth Pondering…

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did.
So throw off the bowlines.
Sail away from the safe harbor.
Catch the trade winds in your sails.
Explore. Dream. Discover.

—Mark Twain

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Space Heaters Deadly as Cause of RV Fires

Fire safety is essential when camping in your recreational vehicle.

Jesse Evans had already been pulled from this burning RV before volunteer firefighters arrived at the scene. (Credit: Norma Martinez/ rockportpilot.com)
Jesse Evans had already been pulled from this burning RV before volunteer firefighters arrived at the scene. (Credit: Norma Martinez/ rockportpilot.com)

In earlier posts I reported on space heater fires that destroyed RVs and caused the death of its occupants—both human and canine.

Following are recent reports on four RVs destroyed by fires that were caused by human carelessness.

Ohio: Space Heater Cause of Camper Fire

Mansfieldnewsjournal.com reports that a camper was destroyed in a fire caused by an electric space heater. A family of four was displaced after a fire consumed their Charles Mill Lake camper. Mark and Amy Snyder and their two children, Savannah, 10, and Taylor, 13, had been living in the camper for the past year.

“We lost everything (in the fire),” Mark Snyder said. “But everybody made it out alive, and that’s all that matters.”

The family’s two cats and a pet rabbit were killed in the fire, Mark said. The family dog survived.

Ashland County’s Mifflin Township Fire Department responded to the camper fire just after midnight, chief JJ Bittinger said. When crews arrived, the fire was fully engaged. Firefighters spent two hours dousing the flames and cleaning up. The camper and all of its contents are considered a total loss. Bittinger said firefighters attribute the cause of the fire to an electric space heater in the children’s bedroom.

Potential space heater fire (Source: familyhandyman.com)
Potential space heater fire (Source: familyhandyman.com)

Amy said everyone was asleep when the fire broke out in Savannah and Taylor’s bedroom. Savannah woke up to smoke in the room and started screaming “fire”. Amy’s rental car also was damaged in the fire.

Montana: Propane Heater Cause of Trailer Fire

Kxlf.com reports a man escaped from a camp trailer fire at the KOA Campground in Butte. The Butte Fire Department investigators who responded to the fire determined it was started by a defective propane heater in the trailer. The man managed to evacuate the trailer unharmed, but the vehicle was heavily damaged by the fire.

Texas: Propane Space Heater Causes RV Fire

Rockportpilot.com reports a small propane heater exploded in the face of a 78-year-old man who was attempting to light it in his RV, which was in an RV park. He was rescued from the burning RV by a neighbor.

The man, Jesse Evans, was checked at the scene by EMS personnel who noted he had burns to his face. He was transported to the EMS helipad then taken by HALO-Flight to a burn unit in San Antonio. Evans told paramedics he was attempting to light the heater when it exploded.

Washington: Space Heater Fire Cause of Trailer Fire That Kills Canadian Snowbird

Gazette-tribune.com reports a Saskatchewan man who winters each year in Oroville died in a fatal motorhome fire in Prince’s RV Park.

The Oroville Fire, Police and Ambulance departments, as well as an Okanogan County Sheriff’s Deputy responded to the scene at around 4:06 a.m., according to Sheriff Frank Rogers. When emergency personnel arrived they believed a subject was staying in the trailer but were not sure and the fire at the trailer was fully involved, said the sheriff.

“Once the fire was put out they discovered the body of Cornelius D. Friesen, 84, of Glenbush, Saskatchewan. The trailer belonged to Friesen, who comes down to Oroville during the winter and was living in the trailer. Detective Sloan from the Sheriff’s Office also responded to the scene to investigate the cause,” said Rogers.

(Source: firesafetycouncil.com)
(Source: firesafetycouncil.com)

At this time it appears that the fire was caused by space heater in the trailer and Friesen was the only one in the trailer at the time of the fire.

9 Tips For Safe Operation of RV Space Heaters

1. Buy a space heater that is the correct size for the area that needs to be heated.

2. Buy a space heater with covers or guards over the working parts of the heater to prevent burns. This is especially important if you have children or pets.

3. Maintain at least three feet around space heaters and keep them out of the reach of children. and pets. Pets can easily knock them over or children can get burned on them.

5. Never leave a space heater turned on when going to bed or leaving the room or RV.

6. Ensure your space heater has tip-over protection and overheat protection, both of which will force a shut-off if there’s a problem.

7. Be aware that RVs require specially designated heating equipment and only electric or vented fuel-fired heaters should be used.

8. Plug space heaters directly into an outlet: don’t use extension cords or power strips.

9. To avoid fire and exposure to carbon monoxide, don’t use outdoor fuel heaters, like those meant for camping, indoors.

Worth Pondering…

Remember, safety is no accident.

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Fires Destroy 4 RVs & Woman Falls From Moving RV

Whether camping or just relaxing in your recreational vehicle, fire safety is essential.

A late model diesel pusher motorhome exploded in flames and was completely destroyed as the blaze backed up commuter traffic. (Credit: mantecabulletin.com)
A late model diesel pusher motorhome exploded in flames and was completely destroyed as the blaze backed up commuter traffic. (Credit: mantecabulletin.com)

It is critical that every member of your party know what to do in a fire or other emergency. If you are one of the millions of RV enthusiasts who love to take to the road and explore the country, ensure your family’s safety while travelling in your RV.

Recent media reports detail four separate fires involving recreational vehicles.

Missouri: Refrigerator Compressor Cause of RV Fire

Republican-times.com reports that an RV was destroyed by a fire which is believed to have been caused by a mechanical problem in the operation of a refrigerator compressor.

A young child is being credited with alerting an adult to a fire that also saw two Trenton Fire Explorers take action to save the life of a cat caught in the blaze.
According to Trenton Firefighter Robert Romesburg, the owner of the camper said he was outside when he was informed by his neighbor that smoke was coming from the camper.

It was later learned that the neighbor had been alerted to the fire by his five-year-old son who saw smoke and fire coming from the camper.

California: Electrical Short Causes Motorhome Fire

Mantecabulletin.com reports that fire completely engulfed a 35-foot-long motor coach on northbound Interstate 5 near Manteca. It was apparently caused by a short in the wiring.

The fire destroyed most of the belongings of the retired Pennsylvania couple traveling up the state.

Flames destroyed a motorhome as it traveled through the north end of Pass Christian, Mississippi. A heater inside the motorhome was running and tipped over. (Credit: wlox.com)
Flames destroyed a motorhome as it traveled through the north end of Pass Christian, Mississippi. A heater inside the motorhome was running and tipped over. (Credit: wlox.com)

The driver told Lathrop-Manteca Fire Chief Gene Neeley that they were driving westbound on the Highway 120 Bypass when they took the transition ramp to northbound I-5. He said that all the electrical went out in the vehicle as they entered the northbound freeway. The retired middle school teacher said he got on the phone and called his emergency road service number as the fire broke out.

Flames had erupted from underneath the dashboard, he said, and they both got out of the vehicle as they came to a stop on the shoulder of the roadway. The couple said they emptied their small fire extinguisher with little affect in putting out the flames. The quick thinking driver ran to the back of the coach and unhitched a Jeep they had in tow.

Utah: Space Heater Causes RV Fire

Sltrib.com reports that a space heater is the cause of a fire in an older model recreational vehicle.

The fast-acting fire fighters of Salt Lake City managed to bring the fire completely under control in six minutes flat.

Salt Lake Fire spokesman Jasen Asay said a woman who lived in the RV off-and-on was not injured by the blaze. She turned on some space heaters Monday night, which investigators believe ignited something combustible in the vehicle.

Investigators estimated the damage at about $2,500. Most of the front of the vehicle was destroyed and the rear suffered heat damage. The fire did not threaten any other vehicles or buildings.

Mississippi: Heater Tips Over Destroying Motorhome

Wlox.com reports that flames ate through a motorhome as it traveled through the north end of Pass Christian. A heater inside the motorhome was running. When it tipped over, it caught some furniture on fire. The fire quickly spread, torching just about everything inside and outside the vehicle.

fire_safetyHarrison County’s fire chief Pat Sullivan said one person was in the motorhome when it was consumed by the fire. No word on his condition.

Minnesota: Woman Falls From Moving RV& Dies

Brainerddispatch.com reports that a 26-year-old woman died after she fell out the door of a moving recreational vehicle in Randall.

Through their investigation, Morrison County deputies learned that as the RV began to move, the passenger, apparently fell against the interior door, causing it to open, and allowing her to fall onto the pavement where she struck her head.

Morrison County Sheriff Michel Wetzel said, “While there was no sign of impairment obvious with the driver, the incident remains under investigation.”

The Morrison County Sheriff’s Office received a call of a medical emergency. Upon arrival deputies rendered emergency medical care. She was transported by ambulance to St. Gabriel’s Hospital, and later to St. Cloud Hospital.

Deputies were advised later that day by St. Cloud Hospital that she had passed away due to her injuries.

Worth Pondering…

Have you put…

Step up

Antenna down

Wife in?

—sign at a Dickson, Tennessee campground

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6 Case Studies in Preventing RV Fires

With an average of 3,100 RV fires each year, there is no shortage of news stories across the U.S. and Canada about devastating losses due to recreational vehicle fires.

An portable heater left unattended was the cause of a fire that burned this Winnebago. (Credit: Bill Beezley/East Jefferson Fire-Rescue)
An portable heater left unattended was the cause of a fire that burned this Winnebago. (Credit: Bill Beezley/East Jefferson Fire-Rescue)

These fires caused seven deaths, 62 injuries, and approximately $41 million in damages each year.

These numbers reflect how important fire safety and fire prevention are to the RV lifestyle. Keep in mind a few safety precautions whenever you leave an RV for any amount of time.

Make sure that space heaters are turned off at night and when leaving the RV. Do not leave cooking unattended for even the shortest period of time. Check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors monthly and replace batteries yearly.

Following are recent reports on six RVs destroyed by fires that were caused by human carelessness.

Washington: Heater Cause of RV Fire

Peninsuladailynews.com reports that an old portable heater left on in a Winnebago was the cause of a fire that burned the motorhome.

East Jefferson Fire-Rescue personnel found flames shooting out of the roof of the 1972 Winnebago Chieftain after they were called to the fire at Sea Breeze Mobile Home Park.
No one was hurt, but the vehicle was uninhabitable, according to reports.

The owner of the vehicle was absent at the time of the fire, which was reported by a neighbor who called 9-1-1 dispatchers.

Royal Firefighters apply plastic to a trailer window after a fire at the Fort Victoria RV Park on Christmas Day. (Credit: Bruce Stotesbury, timescolonist.com)
Royal Firefighters apply plastic to a trailer window after a fire at the Fort Victoria RV Park on Christmas Day. (Credit: Bruce Stotesbury, timescolonist.com)

The owner told firefighters he had left an old portable heater on when he left the vehicle about an hour and a half before, and that was determined to be the cause of the fire.
Twelve firefighters from East Jefferson Fire-Rescue responded to the call.

Mississippi: Unattended Skillet Cause of RV Fire

Sunherald.com reports that a fire heavily damaged a 41-foot camper trailer on private property in Saucier on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Nobody was in the camper when the fire started. The cause was a skillet left on after sausage and bacon had been cooked, Harrison County Fire Marshal Pat Sullivan said.

Nine firefighters and two engines from Saucier Fire and the Harrison County Fire Services responded when the fire was reported. Sullivan said it took about 10 minutes to put out the fire.

Maryland: Hot Water Tank Malfunction Cause of RV Fire

Heraldmailmedia.com reports that a hot-water tank malfunction started a fire that caused $60,000 in damages to a 2011 Keystone Raptor fifth wheel trailer and its contents near Hagerstown.

The RV, which contained a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, was a total loss, according to a fire marshal’s office news release.

Twenty-seven firefighters from Hagerstown, Leitersburg, Longmeadow, Maugansville, and Greencastle, Pennsylvania, took 15 minutes to bring the fire under control.

Ohio: Refrigerator Cause of RV Fire

Norwalkreflector.com reports that a motorhome fire started at the bottom of the refrigerator and spread to the wall.

Damages totaled $20,000 and the vehicle was determined to be a total loss due to major heat and smoke damage.

Three vehicles and seven firefighters responded. When they arrived at the scene of the blaze, flames had gone through the roof and one side of the motorhome. No injuries were reported.

Texas: Space Heater Cause of RV Fire

Weatherforddemocrat.com reports that an RV fire south of Weatherford on Christmas left a man, who was sleeping inside the vehicle at the time, with third-degree burns to several parts of his body.

Fire that started at the bottom of the refrigerator destroys motorhome. (Source: norwalkreflector.com)
Fire that started at the bottom of the refrigerator destroys motorhome. (Source: norwalkreflector.com)

The man’s mother indicated her daughter and her husband saw the smoke from their house nearby and went to the RV and helped him get out. Firefighters from Spring Creek VFD, Weatherford Fire Department and Greenwood VFD responded to the fire and found the RV on fire. Firefighters said the fire probably started due to a space heater.

British Columbia: Turkey Left Unattended in Oven Cause of RV Fire

Timescolonist.com reports that a cooking turkey left unattended in an oven caused a travel trailer fire on Christmas Day.

View Royal firefighters were called to the Fort Victoria RV Park after neighbors spotted smoke coming from the trailer. Firefighters had the flames out quickly but the trailer suffered considerable smoke damage.

“It’s another ad for not leaving your cooking unattended,” said fire chief Paul Hurst.

“That turkey will be inedible.”

Worth Pondering…

Remember, safety is no accident.

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Fires Destroy 5 RVs, Pickup &Fatality

Whether camping or just relaxing in your recreational vehicle, fire safety is essential.

Firefighters extinguish pockets of fire that engulfed a motorhome. (Courtesy: Cape Coral Fire Department)
Firefighters extinguish pockets of fire that engulfed a motorhome. (Courtesy: Cape Coral Fire Department)

It is critical that every member of your party know what to do in a fire or other emergency. If you are one of the millions of RV enthusiasts who love to take to the road and explore the country, ensure your family’s safety while travelling in your RV.

Recent media reports detail seven separate fires involving recreational vehicles.

California: Unattended Cooking Fire Destroys RV & Pickup

Santacruzsentinel.com reports that a cooking fire in an RV destroyed the RV and a Chevy pickup.

A man was cooking in the RV but was outside the vehicle when the fire started said Zayante Fire Chief John Stipes. The man tried to extinguish it and was burned on his hand, firefighters said. He was not transported to a hospital.

The fire spread to the Chevy and briefly threatened trees and a home about 10 feet from the RV.

Firefighters doused the blaze in about 20 minutes.

Pennsylvania: Extension Cord Overload Causes Camper Fire

fire_safetyLancasteronline.com reports that a pop-up camper was destroyed after an electrical malfunction sparked a blaze near Christiana.

A couple was living in the camper temporarily while their home was under construction nearby, according to Paul Reimold, Christiana fire chief. A heater had been in use inside the camper. An extension cord running from the camper to a nearby home was completely burned. The chief estimated damage at $5,000 to $6,000.

Florida: Candle Causes Motorhome Fire

WINK-TV reports that an unattended fragrance candle caused a fire that destroyed an RV.

When Cape Coral firefighters responded the RV was completely engulfed in flames. Smoke was visible across the city. An open field and a street separated the RV from other homes. Firefighters acted quickly to prevent the fire from spreading across the field.

An investigation revealed that the owner of the home had just returned from a trip to Busch Gardens and were using a fragrance candle to freshen the air inside the motorhome.

At some point, the candle sparked a fire in the center of the RV which then spread quickly.

The RV, valued at 35,000, was a total loss. There were no injuries.

North Carolina: Electric Space Heater Causes Motorhome Fire Fatality

Blueridgenow.com reports that an electric space heater is the likely cause of a recreation vehicle fire that took the life of the person inside.

Henderson County Assistant Fire Marshal Joe Swain said investigators could not determine the precise cause of the fire because of the amount of damage done to the RV.

A woman who was living in the RV “did use a space heater because the furnace in the motorhome was not working,” Swain said. “We are assuming it could have been that, but I could not pinpoint what it is.”

The body was burned too far beyond recognition to make positive I.D. The body was transported to the medical examiner’s office to make a positive identification.

Because of its construction, the RV burned quickly. The motorhome being so small and made out of fiberglass and foam materials with thin paneling, when the fire department got there, it was fully involved. The walls were pretty much down on the floor by the time they arrived.

Mississippi: Propane Sparks RV Explosion

A build-up of propane inside a motorhome sparked an explosion at the Mississippi State Fairgrounds. (Courtesy: WLOX-TV)
A build-up of propane inside a motorhome sparked an explosion at the Mississippi State Fairgrounds. (Courtesy: WLOX-TV)

WLOX-TV reports that a build-up of propane inside an RV sparked an explosion at the Mississippi State Fairgrounds.

Witnesses reported smelling propane just before the explosion. The Jackson fire department responded to the scene.

No one was inside the RV at the time, but two dogs were rescued. The canines were not injured. A number of witnesses helped extinguished the flames before firefighters arrived.

The State Fair Commission says the Louisiana couple that owned the RV were in Jackson to watch their daughter compete in a barrel racing competition.

This is the first known explosion at the state fairgrounds during an event.

Conclusion

According to the US Fire Administration, 42 home candle fires are reported every day – over 15,250 annually. More than half of all candle fires start when something that could burn, such as furniture, mattresses or bedding, curtains, or decorations is too close to the candle.

Nationally, there have been an average of 3,100 RV fires each year since 2000. These fires caused seven deaths, 62 injuries, and approximately $41 million in damages in each of those years, according to Cape Fire.

Worth Pondering…

Remember, safety is no accident.

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She Ran Calling ‘Wildfire’

A classic 70’s tune gave us the lyrics, “She ran calling ‘Wildfire’…..”

campfire-safety-hdr-imgThen a love song, but today, possibly the beginnings of a disaster.

With rainfall low, and temperatures and winds high, wildfires are currently raging across the West from Montana to Colorado and California and heavily taxing first responder assets.

Many families travel in their recreational vehicles to get away from the city and into remote areas of the wilderness.

The serene environment is therapeutic to most, and can be an effective stress reliever.

However, it is important to remember that during the summer and autumn months, as foliage begins to dry out, the landscape becomes extremely susceptible to wildfires.

A wildfire (also known as brushfire or forest fire) is basically an uncontrolled fire that typically occurs in remote areas. Depending on wind conditions, these fires can travel over forty miles in a day, taking down timber like it’s made of cardboard.

However, wildfires will consume not only trees and vegetation but anything in their paths including homes, businesses, campgrounds, and RVs.

One common cause of wildfires is lightning, and there is nothing that man can do to prevent Mother Nature from acting out.

46412-hi-wildfire_season5Sadly however, most wildfires are started by the carelessness or maliciousness of humans.

Campers should always take precautions against inadvertently starting a fire. They must remember that any small spark can ignite dry grass or timber.

Following are 10 things you can do to assure that you are not the cause of a wildfire breaking out:

1. Build campfires ONLY in designated areas. Use existing fire rings or pits, if available. Do NOT light fires on windy days.

2. Ensure that no flammable materials are within a five-foot diameter of the fire.

3. Ensure someone is responsible for the fire at all times.

4. ALWAYS keep your fire to a manageable size.

5. NEVER leave your campfire unattended.

6. ALWAYS have a shovel and 5-6 gallons of water to properly put out your campfire. Drown the fire with water and stir in dirt, making sure all burned materials are extinguished. If the fire is truly out, the ground and burned materials should feel cool to the touch.

7. If you do not have water, use dirt. Mix enough dirt or sand with the embers. Continue adding and stirring until all material is cool to the touch.

REMEMBER: Do NOT bury the fire as the fire will continue to smolder and could catch roots on fire that will eventually get to the surface and start a wildfire.

8. Keep all flammable liquids and materials away from your RV, toad, tow vehicle, or tent in case a fire does break out.

9. Keep all matches and lighters from the reach of children. Although it is intriguing to them, keep youngsters from playing with campfires, barbeques, or any open flame.

10. Never discard cigarettes anywhere in the open. Be sure to use an ashtray or a bucket of sand to extinguish the butts.

Smokeythebear head-logoREMEMBER: If it’s too hot to touch, it’s too hot to leave!

Worth Pondering…

She comes down from Yellow Mountain
On a dark flat land she rides
On a pony she named Wildfire
With a whirlwind by her side
On a cold Nebraska night

—Michael Martin Murphey

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Would You Leave Your Campfire Unattended?

Firefighters have discovered 23 illegal, abandoned, or escaped campfires burning on the Bitterroot National Forest in just the last seven days, according to a Bitterroot National Forest news release.

Bitterroot National Forest (Source: fs.usda.gov/bitterroot)
Bitterroot National Forest (Source: fs.usda.gov/bitterroot)

Two of the fires were discovered Sunday morning (August 11) off Skalkaho Highway near Gird Point Lookout and Railroad Creek (near the Idaho-Montana state line), east of Hamilton, Montana (40 miles south of Missoula).

Both fires had escaped their makeshift rings and if crews had not been close by, could have quickly and easily spread to nearby grass and trees.

The Forest Service is asking for the public’s help in stopping this growing problem. It’s a major concern as fire crews are spending their time responding to and putting out abandoned campfires, which could delay responses to new wildfires that start.

More than half of the abandoned campfires were discovered outside designated/approved campgrounds, where fires are currently prohibited under Stage 1 Restrictions.

Fire Restrictions

Stage 1 fire restrictions went into effect August 1 on the Bitterroot National Forest. Campfires are allowed only within a designated campground or recreation site which contains a Forest-provided fire ring.

For a list of all designated campgrounds and recreation sites, visit the Forest website (SEE link below)

Individuals who violate these restrictions could face fines of up to $5,000 and be held liable for all suppression costs and damages for starting a fire.

Forest Service map shows active wildfires in the U.S. The Elk Complex and Pony fires in Idaho are represented by Nos. 24 and 26, respectively. (Source: fs.usda.gov)
Forest Service map shows active wildfires in the U.S. The Elk Complex and Pony fires in Idaho are represented by Nos. 24 and 26, respectively. (Source: fs.usda.gov)

Current Fire Danger

The Bitterroot National Forest fire danger is currently very high.

Forest officials are asking the public to be extremely careful when camping and to remember that it’s your job and responsibility to properly maintain and extinguish all campfires.

Smoke & Haze

The smoke and haze that drifted into the Bitterroot Valley overnight is coming from the Pony Complex and Elk fires burning in Idaho.

Combined, the two fires have grown to nearly 200,000 acres

Details

Bitterroot National Forest

The 1.6 million acre Bitterroot National Forest, in west central Montana and east central Idaho, is part of the Northern Rocky Mountains.

Elevation ranges from 3,200 feet at the north end of the Bitterroot Valley to Trapper Peak at 10,157 feet in the mountains on the south. In the Idaho portion of the Forest, elevations drop to about 2,600 feet along the Selway River and 2,200 feet on the Salmon River.

Half of the forest is dedicated to the largest expanse of continuous pristine wilderness in the lower 48 states—the Selway Bitterroot, Frank Church River of No Return, and the Anaconda Pintler.

Much of its beauty can be attributed to the heavily glaciated, rugged peaks of the Bitterroot Range. Drainages carved by glaciers form steep canyons that open into the valley floor. The abundance of natural resources offers a wide range of opportunities for recreation, grazing, wildlife, fisheries, timber, and minerals.

Bitterroot National Forest (Source: fs.usda.gov/bitterroot)
Bitterroot National Forest (Source: fs.usda.gov/bitterroot)

Enjoy the magnificent mountains, the serenity of wilderness, miracle of spring flowers, majestic big game, and sounds of birds.

Summer is a great time to visit the Bitterroot National Forest.

Recreation opportunities abound here including camping at 24 developed campgrounds and five group sites, hiking on more than 1,600 miles of trails, fishing for brook and rainbow trout in crystal-clear Alpine lakes, boating, biking, horseback riding, and more.

The Forest is home to many species of wildlife including deer, elk, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, and moose, plus many varieties of smaller animals and birds.

Bitterroot National Forest Supervisor’s Office Address: 1801 North 1st, Hamilton, MT  59840

Phone: (406) 363-7100

Website: fs.usda.gov/bitterroot

Worth Pondering…

A beautiful flower, a beautiful river, a valley, a magnificent range—such is the Bitter Root.

—Wheeler, 1898

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Don’t Let Your RV Dreams Go Up in Flames

Ensure your family’s safety while traveling in an RV by following these fire safety guidelines.

Fire safety seminars conducted at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Fire safety seminars conducted at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

It’s crucial to know your location so emergency responders can find you in the event of an emergency. Be aware of your location and surroundings and remember, SECONDS DO COUNT!

Confirm the local 911 emergency numbers for police, fire, and ambulance is available in the area.

Have at least two escape routes—one in the front and one in the rear of the RV.

Test all escape windows, hatches, and door latches for smooth operation and keep all escape windows, hatches, and doors clear of any obstructions.

As soon as they are old enough, teach children how to open escape hatches and emergency exits and have them practice.

Fire Escape Plan Guidelines

The first rule of RV firefighting is SAVE LIVES FIRST and property second.

Get yourself and your family to safety before attempting to extinguish any fire. Only if you can do so without endangering yourself or others should you use firefighting aids on hand.

Re-emphasize to everyone aboard that objects can be replaced, people can’t!

Never re-enter a burning RV to retrieve anything—GET OUT & STAY OUT!

Install and maintain at least one smoke alarm in your RV near the sleeping area. Special 12v smoke alarms, designed specifically for RVs, are available from specialized retailers.

Install and maintain at least one carbon monoxide alarm in your RV near the sleeping area. Special 12v carbon monoxide alarms, designed specifically for RVs, are available from specialized retailers.

fire_safetyBe aware that residential style carbon monoxide alarms that plug directly into the electrical outlet require 110v power and would only work and sound an alarm when your RV is plugged into an electrical source at a campground, but would not function when you are on the road or operating off of your 12v battery supply.

Install a propane leak alarm at floor level, no more than six inches above the floor or lowest level to alert you in the event of a propane leak. Propane gas, like gasoline fumes, tends to pool in low-lying spots and even a small spark can ignite it.

If you have a leak, immediately evacuate the area and shut off the propane at the tank, if it is safe to do so.

Propane Fire Safety Guidelines

Ensure that all travelers in the RV know what the sound of each type of alarm indicates and what to do when they hear it.

Test all smoke alarms, carbon monoxide alarms, and propane leak alarms weekly when the RV is in use.

Install a fully charged multi-purpose or ABC fire extinguisher in a visible, easily accessible location near an exit where escape is also an option.

Make sure everyone knows where it is and how to use it.

If you already have a fire extinguisher installed, check the pressure gauge to ensure it is fully charged, indicated by the needle in the green area.

Also keep in mind that the dry chemical inside the extinguisher tends to pack down in the bottom of the extinguisher over time, which may make it ineffective. Once a month, check the gauge or pin for pressure, turn the extinguisher upside down, and hit the bottom sharply with your hand, and shake it well. This should dislodge any compacted dry chemical inside the extinguisher.

Most fire extinguishers have a lifespan of five to 15 years.

Remember, DON’T FIGHT A FIRE unless you call the fire department FIRST! A fire extinguisher is no substitute for the fire department.

Have your fuel-burning appliances checked at the beginning of each camping season to ensure they are properly vented, free of any obstructions such as cobwebs, bird nests, etc., and working well.

Driving with propane on can add to the danger if you are involved in an accident or have a fire. SHUT OFF THE PROPANE at the tank and turn off all propane-powered appliances while driving.

Most refrigerators will keep food cold or frozen for several hours, even when turned off.

Two dogs die in N.Y. camper fire. (Source: Mark Gutman/Daily News)
Two dogs die in N.Y. camper fire. (Source: Mark Gutman/Daily News)

When refilling the propane tanks it is important to shut off all interior burners, pilot lights, appliances, automatic ignition switches, and the RV—and have all passengers EXIT THE RV.

Whenever using the stove in your RV, open an overhead vent or turn on the exhaust fan and open a window a small amount to allow fresh air in and carbon monoxide gases out.

NEVER use the stove to heat the interior of the RV.

NEVER leave cooking unattended.

Keep all lighters and matches safely out of the reach of children.

Establish safe campfire rules to be followed when camping.

The above information is based on safety guidelines provided by Windsor (Ontario) Fire & Rescue Service.

Please Note: This is Part 2 of a 2-Part Series on RVs and Fire Safety

Part 1: Fires Destroy 7 RVs

Worth Pondering…

How a Fire Burns
In order for fire to occur, four elements must be present:
Fuel (wood, paper, cloth, gas, oils, fiberglass)
Oxygen (air at between 17% and 19%)
Heat (brakes, engine compartment, exhaust system, transmission)
Chemical Chain Reaction (batteries, refrigerator)
If any one of these four components are missing, a fire cannot burn.

—Mac the Fire Guy

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Fires Destroy 7 RVs

Fires Destroy 7 RVs

Propane blast destroys RV in Oklahoma (Courtesy: Dylan Goforth/Muskogee Phoenix)
Propane blast destroys RV in Oklahoma (Courtesy: Dylan Goforth/Muskogee Phoenix)

Whether camping or just relaxing in your recreational vehicle, fire safety is essential.

It is critical that every member of your party know what to do in a fire or other emergency. If you are one of the millions of RV enthusiasts who love to take to the road and explore the country, ensure your family’s safety while travelling in your RV.

Recent media reports detail seven separate fires involving recreational vehicles.

Florida: Garbage Truck Fire Destroys RV

The News-Press reports that a garbage truck fire spread to an RV and destroyed it at Red Coconut RV Park in Fort Myers Beach. The garbage truck caught fire as the result of a mechanical failure.

According to Dale Reisen, Chairman for the Lee County Arson Task Force, the fire started low, behind the cab and worked its way up very quickly. When the garbage truck went to pick up a dumpster, a fuel or hydraulic line broke and sprayed liquid onto the truck’s hot engine catching fire and that quickly spread to the nearby RV.

Riesen said the explosions heard were gas leaking from a propane tank on the RV. One family lost everything. The estimated cost in damages is close to $500,000,000. Both the RV and the garbage truck are a total loss. One person was treated and released for smoke inhalation.

Oregon: Man Suffers Extensive Burns in Camper Explosion (Courtesy: Springfield Police Department)
Oregon: Man Suffers Extensive Burns in Camper Explosion (Courtesy: Springfield Police Department)

Oklahoma: Propane Blast Destroys RV

The Muskogee Phoenix reports that the Mountain View Volunteer Fire Department firefighters put out a RV fire caused by a propane tank on fire, ending in an explosion. After stalling at an intersection the RV coasted a short distance when smoke began to billow out from under the hood.

Mountain View Chief Don Dailey said one of two propane tanks on the RV exploded, sending shrapnel into nearby fields. Neighbors reported hearing an explosion that sounded like a small bomb. No one was injured in the explosion or fire.

Utah: Two-Year-Old Dies in Camper Fire

Deseret News reports that a short in a spliced extension cord used to power a space heater inside a camper sparked a fire that killed a two-year-old girl in Uintah County.

Roosevelt Fire Chief Lee Rockwood said the body of the girl was found inside the burned out remains of the camper where she lived with her parents. Rockwood said the spliced extension cord, not the space heater itself, was responsible for the blaze. When firefighters reached the trailer nine minutes after receiving a call, it was fully engulfed in flames.

Oregon: Candle Blamed for Trailer Blaze

The Mail Tribune reports that a fire destroyed a travel trailer in White City sending a woman to the hospital with smoke inhalation and killing her pet cat.

Don Hickman, Jackson County Fire District No. 3 public information officer, said the fire started because the woman had been burning a candle and fell asleep. The candle was homemade with the wax pouring into an empty baby wipes container. It burned down to the point where it caught fire.

“We encourage folks, when they have candles, to make sure they’re on a noncombustible surface, and make sure it’s out before you go to bed,” Hickman said.

Oregon: Propane Ignites/Guts Motorhome

The Curry Coastal Pilot reports that a Harbor resident is without his home but alive after a fire gutted the inside of his motorhome at an RV park.

The resident had just turned on the propane to supply a water heater when the gas ignited and started a fire, said Harbor Fire Department Chief John Brazil. Firefighters were able to keep the fire from escaping the motorhome and spreading to nearby trailers and motorhomes.

Two-year-old dies in Utah camper fire (Courtesy: Geoff Liesik/Deseret News)
Two-year-old dies in Utah camper fire (Courtesy: Geoff Liesik/Deseret News)

Florida: Refrigerator Causes Camper Fire

The Northwest Florida Daily News reports that a camper trailer in front of a home caught fire. No one was injured but the camper was a total loss.

The RV was about 20 feet from the home. According to the Niceville Fire Department, a refrigerator unit short circuited causing 15 to 20 foot flames.

Oregon: Man Suffers Extensive Burns in Camper Explosion

Lane Today reports that Springfield Police and Springfield Fire and Life Safety responded to an explosion in an RV camper. Medics were already treating the owner for extensive burns when police arrived. Police say the injuries do not appear to be life-threatening.

Preliminary investigation indicates the explosion was likely caused by a gas leak from the refrigerator inside the RV and was triggered when the owner ignited the stove. No one else was injured in the incident.

Please Note: This is Part 1 of a 2-Part Series on RVs and Fire Safety

Part 2: Don’t Let Your RV Dreams Go Up in Flames

Worth Pondering…

Remember, safety is no accident.

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Make a Memorable Road Trip

A road trip, whether you do it on Sunday, Monday, or any other day of the week, isn’t about getting from Point A to Point B. It’s about the people, places, and things that you meet and see and experience along the way.

A fifth wheel trailer camped at Alamo Lake State Park, Arizona. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
A fifth wheel trailer camped at Alamo Lake State Park, Arizona. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

With some advance preparation, the road trip can be one you will remember for a long time.

Tent or recreational vehicle

By now you’re almost ready to head out. The most important piece of equipment is your tent or recreational vehicle. While there are financial considerations for your choice of a home away from home, personal preference also plays a role.

For a family road trip, consider renting an RV, if you do not already own one. You’ll combine transportation and lodging costs. You’ll also cut down the food cost of restaurants as you can use the RV kitchen to prepare meals and snacks.

Travel trailer

This is the most common RV. A travel trailer is towed by a car, a van, SUV, or pick-up and the sizes, features, and prices are endless. Trailers now come with garages, roof top patios, bay windows, fireplaces, offices, hideaway beds, expanding sides, and lowering roofs.

Fifth wheel trailer

Fifth wheel trailers are towed by pick-up trucks with a special fifth-wheel hitch, they generally have taller ceilings and more slide-out rooms. Fifth wheels are the most spacious RVs available, but don’t let the size intimidate you, they are easy to tow.

Truck camper

Check out new and used recreational vehicles at Camping World or your local RV dealer.
Check out new and used recreational vehicles at Camping World or your local RV dealer.

Truck campers are designed to ride in a pick-up truck bed and can provide all the conveniences of larger RVs including slide outs. The benefit is that the truck is still free to tow boats, car carriers, ATVs, motorcycles, snowmobiles, or even a horse trailer. It’s easy and economical especially for anyone who owns a pickup truck.

Class A motorhome

Class A motorhomes typically resembling a bus are constructed on a specially designed motorhome chassis. Powered by gas or diesel engines, these units may have multiple slide-out sections that open up the living space.

Class C motorhome

The Class C motorhome has a distinctive cab-over bunk that makes this RV easy to recognize. Built on a commercial cut-away van chassis, Class Cs are available in various lengths; many have slide-out rooms and optional extras.

Class B motorhome

Also called camper van, the Class B motorhome is an engineering marvel! Kitchens and washrooms with showers and they sleep up to four people; all in a slightly stretched full-size van often with a raised roof. easy to drive and park, Class Bs are powered by gas or diesel engines, fit in a normal parking space, have excellent fuel economy, and can be used as a second vehicle.

Maintain Smoke, carbon monoxide, and propane detectors

Your RV of the future?
Your RV of the future?

Recently a 73 year-old woman in California died in an RV fire; two smoke alarms inside the RV were not working because they had no batteries.

In Louisiana two people died of carbon monoxide poisoning while they were in a pop-up camper that was inside a metal building. The cause was a generator that was used for electricity for an electric heater. The generator was inside the building.

Smoke alarms should be tested monthly, and the batteries changed at least once annually.

Many people use the time change as a reminder to change the batteries in their detectors.

Be sure you know the life of your alarm — most are 10 years, although some are five — and replace it when the time has expired.

Please Note: This is Part 2 of a 2-part series

Part 1: Planning a Successful Camping Trip

Worth Pondering…

It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan.

—Eleanor Roosevelt.

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