Big Sur Fire Prevention Tips & Tricks

The summer months are one of the busiest times of year in Big Sur. With so many people coming to visit, campfires and cigarettes can easily start fires that can get out of control. It’s important to make sure you’re doing everything possible to prevent these fires from happening. To help you keep your campground safe this summer, here are some tips for preventing wildfires:

Keep Campfires Small and Contained

While you’re out enjoying the great outdoors, make sure your campfires are contained and small.

  • Campfires are prohibited along Highway One.
  • In campgrounds, campfires must be in a fire ring. Permits are required for all campfires outside of designated fire rings.
  • Use a fire ring. Your fire should be no larger than 3 feet wide and 1 foot high.
  • Only use dry wood–don’t cut down trees or use green branches for fuel!
  • After you’ve finished cooking/grilling and eating a meal, use a shovel to remove ashes and coals from the ground so they don’t start another fire later when they’re exposed to moisture from rain or dew in the air (this will cause them to reignite).

If you are going to have an open flame, be sure it is contained in some sort of container with ventilation holes and keep it away from combustible materials like tents, tarps and dry grasses. Only use propane stoves for cooking on the beach or in campsites where there are no trees nearby to catch fire (it’s illegal otherwise).

Learn more how to keep campfires small and contained by visiting Leave No Trace.

Check out the Big Sur Campfire Restrictions and California Campfire Permit details.

Completely Extinguish Campfires Before Leaving

Make sure your campfire is completely extinguished before you leave it.

  • Douse the fire with water or cover it with dirt.
  • Even if you think there’s nothing left of your campfire, make sure that it’s out–that means lighting another match and checking for smoke or flame.

Discard Cigarette Butts Safely

The most common cause of wildfires is cigarette butts. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that cigarettes are responsible for about 20% of all wildfires. Cigarettes contain plastic that does not biodegrade, so when you throw a cigarette out on the ground or into a fire pit, it will stay there for years to come.

The best way to dispose of your cigarette butt is by putting it in an ashtray at home or in your car (if you have one). If there isn’t an ashtray available, then put out your cigarette properly. Don’t toss it on the ground.

For more information on wildfire safety, visit The Environmental Protection Agency.

Take Out All Trash

Make sure to not leave trash behind.

  • Pack it in and pack it out. Leave no trace. There should be nothing left behind when you depart from camp.
  • Take out all trash, even if it’s just burned hotdogs and marshmallows, plastic silverware and napkins; anything left behind could start a fire, especially when the wind picks up from the ocean breeze.
  • Do not burn plastic or paper products!
  • If there are any fires while camping on Big Sur’s land, please call 911 immediately so they can send out fire crews before more damage is done to this beautiful land we love so much as well as our homes (and lives).

To recap, please follow these tips to prevent wildfires this summer in Big Sur. 

  • It is illegal to have a campfire along Highway One
  • Campfires must be in designated fire rings unless you have a permit.
  • Don’t leave a campfire unattended.
  • Make sure your campfire is completely extinguished before you leave it.
  • Don’t leave trash behind.
  • Use a fire ring.

We hope you have enjoyed our tips for preventing wildfires in Big Sur. Please remember that our beautiful region is also home to many plants and animals that need all the help they can get. A small sacrifice now will go a long way towards protecting our future generations from climate change and other environmental impacts like these devastating fires!

Learn more from The County of Monterey’s Department of Emergency.



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