“Not” Burning Down the House

In Articles, Technical by Glyn DemmerLeave a Comment

Firstly you should establish if an open fire is allowed around your campsite. If it is previous fires should be visible and will indicate where it is safe to make a fire always try to burn a hardwood often sole as “hardekool” it emits a great heat and is long burning.

By its very nature fire is volatile and should not be underestimated, as we always advocate a fire extinguisher should be nearby and children should be kept away from the fire.

And as an additional safety measure, no fire should be left unattended or out of view. If there is an existing fire pit of concrete slab use it as they are generally placed in the safest spot. If you have to build one a circle of rocks should be placed around it for safety sake and to contain the fire.

If you opt to gather wood ascertain if that is permissible and ensure that you do not burn Tamboti as the smoke is highly toxic. Wear gloves to protect your hands when gathering wood as various insects live under the logs and sticks that lay around in the veld.

Gather tinder to start the fire if you do not have firelighters- I use tinder and travel with old tea bags that have been soaked in methylated spirits.

In all cases the tinder and firelighters are the basis for any fire once you have a small quantity of tinder on the go you can add more to it to get a healthy fire then you can decide how you want to build the fire, there are a few methods;

  • The wigwam or tent shape of stacking your kindling – arrange your wood in a circle around the tinder leaning the tops against one another to form a tent shape much like an American wigwam. Once it is stable you can add more wood and light the tinder. This is an easy fire but it burns quickly and requires attention.
  • The parallel stack- with your kindling in the middle place tow logs on opposite running parallel to each other, then stack two logs with each end touching the original logs parallel to one another continue until you have a stack 3-4 logs high. Now light the tinder. This fire does not require much attention and produces hot coals – it does take a bit longer to build.
  • The upside down fire – this is a fire that last long but can burn high so needs attention, lay you bigger logs side by side next to one another then continue to build layers each one perpendicular to the other until you have a stack of logs about 8 high, place your tinder on top of the stack and light it the fire will then burn from top down.

Maintain your fire by periodically adding more wood, but do not smother it otherwise it will die from Oxygen deprivation, keep it as small as you can as long as it allows warmth and atmosphere. When you have finished and the fire has burnt down put it out with a bucket of water ensuring that there are now colas left glowing.

From all at Cross Country enjoy the upcoming break, drive safely and make safe fires wherever you may be.

About the Author

Glyn Demmer

My first 4x4 was a Nissan Hardbody thereafter I started travelling all over the country. In 1992 we held a big 4x4 day with hundreds of Nissan families, and then the 4x4 bug really bit. A friend Monty Brett and I started running 4x4 courses at the Hennops Off-road Trail just outside of Johannesburg. At first we offered day-and-a-half courses that started on Friday afternoon and finished on Saturday afternoon. Hannes Grobler the Rally Ace regularly assisted, and we reached a nice balance between our two styles and our skills.

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