A story from Alaska: How NOT to start a campfire.

by Mike (TheCampingDetective)

While camping near Anchorage Alaska one summer, we encountered a family from Tennessee at a small private campground. It was a cold day with drizzle. While the dad was out collecting “wet” firewood in the forest, mom was preparing a meal on the truck tailgate, their small boy was playing nearby and their dog was tied to the bumper.

While setting up our camp we were taking the occasional peek over to their camp watching in anticipation of the event about to unfold. After an hour or so the “wet” campfire wood had been collected and stacked about four feet high in the campfire ring about 10 feet from where the mom was cooking.

I had offered some dry newspaper to help get the fire going, but, I was informed all is under control. At the point we were deciding how the dad was going to start that fire, we got our answer. Out came the gasoline can from the back of the truck. Glug, glug, glug...gasoline was being poured over that stack of “wet” wood...I’m guessing a half gallon or more.

Now, I’m not sure if you have had experience in starting a campfire….but, this is NOT the way to do it! On cold days those fumes stay close to the ground and can travel a great distance. Without saying anything to his wife the dad stood back...lit a match and threw it towards the campfire.

The match didn’t make it to the where the stacked wood was but it didn’t have to...there were plenty of fumes everywhere. What happened next could have rivaled an atomic explosion! We saw a flash! Everything in a 10 ft radius lit up.

I'm sure the dog knew what was going to happen because he had already moved far away as the rope let him. Mom jumped as her calves were getting toasted tipping over some items on the tailgate. Next thing we saw was mom chasing dad around the camp with a cooking spoon. What a spectacle!

The wife dropped by our camp after a while once the dispute settled, we gave her some ointment for those shiny red calves. An an hour later dad and son were roasting marsh-mellows by the campfire...but only after I had given them our newspaper and dry wood we had along.

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