Stay Safe in Burned Areas

Fire staff stand behind a plastic tape closing an area
In the aftermath of the Congress Fire, park staff had to close certain areas for public safety

NPS Photo

Watch for falling trees.

Dead or alive branches and trees may fall, even when there is no wind. Stay aware of overhead surroundings. Listen for cracks or snapping from roots, trunks, or branches. Don't linger under dead, cracked, broken, or hanging branches. Avoid spending any time under burned trees.

Do not enter closed areas.

Check at trailheads for information about potential hazards or closures. There are identified risks in these areas, including burned bridges, hazard trees, and sections of trail that are unstable due to erosion. Many of these hazards may be hard to spot.

Drive carefully.

Rocks, debris, and downed trees may be present on roads at any time. Be alert and drive slowly, especially during rainy or windy weather. Follow tire chain requirements when they are in place. Watch out for animals.

Stay on trails. Turn back if dangers are present.

Though it may be tempting to wander, off-trail areas have hazards such as rolling rocks, holes, and unstable soils. Conditions in burned areas can change quickly. Turn around if you have difficulty following the trail, or encounter a problem that makes it unsafe to continue. Burned stumpholes or bridges may be common on some trails. Report dangerous conditions to park staff.

Be especially careful if it's rainy or windy.

Whether you plan an auto tour, a walk around the sequoias, a wilderness trip, or camping, storms and wind make many burned area hazards even more dangerous. Consider waiting until the weather is better before you travel.

If you encounter dangerous conditions, turn back.

Conditions in burned areas can change quickly. Turn around if you see a problem and you're not sure if it's safe to continue.

River Safety

Fires may cause trees and shrubs near rivers to die and fall in the water. When recreating near the river, do not swim near submerged trees or vegetation. They can trap you underwater.

Last updated: October 10, 2023

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