Autumn generally means blanket of fire starting tinder, aka dry leaves, covering the ground, as well as dead ground cover, both of which can wreak havoc should a stray spark catch hold of something. Campfires can easily escape a fire pit and turn into a wildfire in minutes if they’re not watched carefully.

When you’re starting a campfire or adding wood to one, it’s smart to be mindful of the embers that shoot upward. If the conditions are right—and the Autumn weather typically guarantees they are—a flare up may occur without warning. There are ways you can minimize this risk, though. For instance, it’s common for campers is to use newspaper to ignite a campfire, but doing so often leads to more floating embers than if they hadn’t used the paper. Instead of using newspaper, start your fires with prepared starters such as wax and sawdust candles. If you absolutely need to use newspaper, use as little as possible.

Once your fire is built, keeping it contained in the fire ring and keeping it to a manageable size will go a long way towards preventing it from getting out of control. Also, be sure to clear any dry leaves near the fire ring and you can even remove any fire hazards between the fire and the forest, too. Also, avoid overloading the fire ring, which can lead to the fire growing too tall and cause burning embers to explode, launching them well beyond your barrier.

You can keep your campfire safe by using common sense, staying alert, and keeping the fire smaller and, thus, more manageable. Like the sea, fire demands respect and if careless, those who use it can lose control quickly. The tips above will help keep your backyard and campsites from becoming wildfire ground zero this Autumn.