Cosy campfires – and how to play it safe
Arrive in the natural wonderland that is Sweden and you’ll enjoy the right of public access – giving you freedom to roam the countryside across land and water. Go for a relaxing walk and stop to pick berries along the way or take a swim in a lake.
Pitching a tent for a night or two in the wilderness is part of the freedom to roam, too. To complete the experience, what could be cosier than sitting by a campfire as night falls ? Making fires is allowed in the Swedish countryside – but only when conditions are safe.
Campfires make some landowners nervous – and understandably so. Many forest fires are unintentionally caused by campfires every year – and with dire consequences. Sweden has suffered significant fires in recent years due to the unusually dry, hot summers Scandinavia has experienced.
Fire bans in Sweden and how to find out about them
Fire bans are issued frequently in Sweden during spring, summer and autumn to prevent forest fires. County administrative boards and the fire brigade are behind these bans, and it’s up to you to find out when and where these are in force.
So how can you go about this? Most municipalities provide information relating to current fire risk levels. You’ll find this information at the local tourist office. It’s important to remember that no fires may be lit in the open during a fire ban –this includes the use of purpose-built fireplaces .
Lighting a fire – dos and don’ts
- The safest option is to use an existing campfire pit. You can also make a new one – just make sure to keep it small and well contained.
- Choose a spot where your campfire runs no risk of spreading or causing damage to the vegetation or ground. Avoid moss, peat bogs and humus-rich forest soils – fire is more likely to spread on these types of soils. And, just as destructive, fire can smoulder underground and flare up at a later stage.
- Fires must not be lit on, or next to, a rock – the heat will cause the rock to crack.
- As for finding small twigs and kindling, the right of public access allows you to collect fallen twigs and pinecones – but it’s not permitted to remove these from living trees. Neither should you cut any shrubs or carve off bark. It’s also forbidden to use fallen trees as firewood.
- Special rules apply in national parks and nature reserves, where there may be a total ban on fires. In other cases, purpose-made fireplaces might be provided. Look out for rules in English posted on noticeboards in the area.
- Always keep your fire under close control and supervise it carefully! Be sure to fully put your fire out before leaving the premises. It is recommended to stay put at least ten minutes after you have extinguished the fire.
Grilling twist bread over open fire.
Photo: Maria Skarve
Photo: Maria Skarve
Photo: Henrik Trygg/imagebank.sweden.se