Messenger Flat fire

Care is essential when dealing with fire in the backcountry.

Today’s Messenger Fire (mile 430) underscores the potential dangers associated with campfires in Southern California, even when camping in developed campgrounds with fire rings.


Messenger Flat campground burning on 5/3/13

The National Weather Service issues red flag warnings when weather conditions make it more likely fires will start and propagate. Large portions of the PCT are without cell service, so it’s impossible to receive updated weather reports. Hikers should be aware of what constitutes red flag and dangerous fire conditions. Always be cautious, even when cooking with a stove.

Much of Southern California is currently under red flag conditions because of dry fuels, low relatively humidity, higher-than-normal temperatures and persistent offshore winds.

Even when using a stove make sure to clear all flammable materials (dry leaf litter, pine needles, grass, etc) around the stove and stay close while it is lit.

The Messenger fire started last night as a small cooking fire in a U.S. Forest Service fire ring. Before to going to bed, the camper reports pouring water on the fire and assuming it was out. The camper awoke early this morning surrounded by flames. It’s likely that morning winds picked up embers and spread them into dry pine needles and other debris.

The fire viewed from afar as people evacuated.

The fire viewed from afar as people evacuated.

For general guidelines read our page on fire information. The Messenger Flat fire is out and the area is open.

Author: PCTA Staff

The mission of the Pacific Crest Trail Association is to protect, preserve and promote the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail as a world-class experience for hikers and equestrians, and for all the values provided by wild and scenic lands.