A Garden Fire
February 2, 2009barriehol
I spent this weekend in the garden clearing out the dykes and all the fallen branches and twigs shed by the larger trees. It was bitter cold but we compensated by lighting a garden fire. There’s something very therapeutic about having a fire and seeing the autumns accumulation of garden debris gradually disappearing into white ash. Not without its risks. In my case I can only light a fire if the wind is blowing from the south west or east unless I want to risk burning down my neighbours hay barn or invoking the wrath of my wife and neighbours by choking them with smoke and ruining their washing. Even then I have to be vigilant.
On one occasion the wind veered from the south west to a full southerly and sparks form the fire by chance blew into a hollow in a big willow at the bottom of the garden a few yards from the fire. It must have smouldered for a while as we only noticed the tree was on fire later when it was dark and we could see this flames flickering away. It burnt down a good half of the tree despite us throwing bucket after bucket of water into the ever widening core of the tree.
Of course not everyone is surrounded as I am by trees and farm buildings but wherever you are a fire out of control is a hazard so here’s some safety tips to consider.
Dont build the fire too large to start with. Build a smaller fire and add to it as it burns.
Don’t put aerosol cans on a fire- they can explode with a bang
Don’t try to start a fire with petrol- you won’t see the vapours until they explode in your face and never ever throw petrol on a lit fire to “liven it up”. It will ignite instantly, even before it reaches the fire, and can back fire right into the can.
You could have a water fire extinguisher on hand just in case
Wear appropriate footwear as its human nature to kick errant sticks back into the fire. Rigger boots are good as they have a steel toe protector and come up to the calf so sparks can’t get in. Use a rake or shovel to tend the fire. Fire and Safety Centre also sell flame retardant boiler suits used in industry by welders and foundry workers. At just £14.50 + vat a pair they are a real bargain.
Don’t leave a blazing fire unattended. Once it’s died down I normally put some green garden plant waste or grass cutting on top which takes ages to burn through and stops sparks flying particularly if it’s windy.
And finally if you have kids – well I really don’t need to state the obvious.