A camper who failed to check whether his campfire was really out is being blamed for a small fire that broke out on an island in Grand Teton National Park.
The fire, covering about a tenth-of-an-acre, flared up on Elk Island in Jackson Lake when gusting winds fanned the campfire's waning embers, according to park officials. It was reported shortly before 7 a.m. Friday. Three firefighters who took a boat to the island managed to douse the flames, which were smoldering in grass and light timber, by 3:30 p.m., according to park officials.
Law enforcement rangers located the boater who had camped at the site on Thursday night. Although he had a fire permit, he failed to properly extinguish his campfire before leaving the site Friday morning, a release from the park said.
"High winds caused the fire to spot outside the rocky area below the high water mark where fires are permitted. The boater had changed his camping location about 2 a.m. because of the winds," the release said. "He stated that he did not notice that the fire was still smoldering and therefore did not make attempts to extinguish it."
“It’s imperative that campers extinguish their fires before going to sleep at night,” North District Ranger Patrick Hattaway said. “Campfires should never be left unattended or abandoned. Campers need to make sure their campfire is cold to the touch before leaving a campsite.”
The ranger said failure to properly extinguish a campfire has a minimum fine of $100, but can require a mandatory court appearance and a judge can require restitution for suppression costs and damages.
The unidentified camper was given a citation to appear before a federal magistrate in Jackson, who would decide whether a fine was appropriate.