Unattended Fire Pits: Why You Never Leave A Fire Pit Burning

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A fire pit burning fully unattended with 2 empty chairs and a patio wall seat


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Patio & Yard


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After making a fire pit, you might be tempted to leave it unattended to go grab something from the kitchen or your RV.

Naturally, you’d wonder if that would be an intelligent thing to do. So, can you leave a fire pit unattended?

The answer is a simple no. Fire can spread very quickly. In a matter of seconds, fire from the pit can spread to nearby flammable objects. And within minutes, you’ll be in the middle of a fire you can’t put out. In most states, leaving a fire pit unattended overnight is punishable by law.

Whenever you hear the word “fire pit,” memories of lively chatter, children’s laughter, and the smell of bar-b-q come alive.

But an unattended fire pit can add a horrible nightmare to that archive. So, learn about this subject and how to keep your family safe.

A fire pit burning fully unattended with 2 empty chairs and a patio wall seat

Reasons You Can’t Leave A Fire Pit Unattended

You can’t leave a fire pit unattended for safety and legal reasons. An unattended fire pit can turn a fun party into a total disaster.

Attending the fire pit means two things. The obvious is that you properly put out the fire after the party’s over.

Secondly, you need to appoint someone who will keep a watchful eye on the flames when the party’s in full swing. Here are some reasons why you have to do these.

Fine And Jail Time

It was an awesome party. Everyone’s gone, and you are too tired to put out the fire pit. Or, there was alcohol in your system, and you forgot all about the fire pit and went to bed.

If any of your neighbors notice your unattended flaming pit and report it, or maybe it catches the eye of a patrolling cop car, you will face a fine and jail time.

This does not apply only to live flames. Smoldering wood, coal, or ash can land you in the same trouble.

Most states consider leaving a flaming pit unattended (like the scenario above) a level three misdemeanor.

The punishment for such an offense is spending six months of your time in a prison cell. Plus, you have to pay close to a thousand dollars in fees.

Jail time for not properly extinguishing your fire pit might sound slightly harsh. But if you speculate on the kind of disaster it can cause, the reason for strict fire laws feels reasonable.  

Sparks And Ember

Sparks and embers from your fire pit can destroy entire neighborhoods and ruin your party.

A spark can land on a nearby flammable object, like dry leaves, paper cups, tissue paper grass, etc., and start a fire. Someone attending to the fire can keep an eye out for this.

Embers have the same type of potential. They continue to burn for several hours, even after the initial flame is gone.

During this time, they might create flying sparks, get carried by the wind, and fall on dry vegetation, causing wildfires.  

Thus, your unattended fire pit can potentially destroy hundreds of lives and homes because embers can sometimes travel far, even close to ten kilometers.

All the while, its capability to burn down miles of civilization within minutes remains intact.

The solution here is never to leave an unattended fire pit overnight. In addition, you have to ritually kill the fire before heading home.

Fire-pit Injuries in Outdoor Parties

At an outdoor party, the majority will be involved in chatter and drinks. Landing sparks and embers might not always catch attention.

A spark can easily make someone’s hair and clothes catch fire. Someone attending the pit can alert the person before it’s too late.

The most at risk of fire pit injuries are children and drunk adults. The unpredictable nature of these groups makes it necessary that someone attends to the fire pit when they are around. 

Children might try lighting objects on fire. An intoxicated individual might tip and fall over the fire pit when warming their body.

The fire pit attendant can take quick action in such situations or prevent them from happening. 

Taking Action at the Earliest

The key to avoiding a fire hazard is to act quickly. The wind might blow one of the many abundant flammable objects found at a party into the fire pit.

A piece of burning coal or wood might fall on the grass. The number of possible scenarios might be infinite. 

And once the grass or leaves catch fire, it will only take half a minute for it to spread. You can expect fire from an unattended fire pit to engulf your house and neighborhood in as little as five minutes.

But if a fire attendant is nearby, they can take measures to extinguish the fire while it’s still manageable.

Things You Should Consider Before Lighting A Fire Pit

Can you leave a fire pit unattended? The answer is obvious from the above discussion. Aside from keeping an eye on your fire pit, there are a few other things to consider before lighting it up.

Site of the Fire 

Your fire pit must be in an open space. Ensure that you are at least ten feet away from your residence. Don’t light a fire pit under an overhanging tree or shed.

Also, avoid lighting a recreational fire near a gas or petrol tank. Stacks of wood or timber near a fire pit are also dangerous

The area around the pit should be clean. Dry leaves, grass, and paper trash are some objects with the potential to be hazardous near a fire pit.

When using a raised and legged fire pit, it’s important to ensure that the surface is even. Otherwise, the pit might tilt over and cause an accident.  


Windy days are not suitable for lighting fire pits. Your local authority may alert you on such days. It’s called a wind alert.

These are days when the winds are too strong and unpredictable. Or, the pollution level may be higher than usual that day. 

Controlling the flames or keeping track of the flying embers and sparks would be tough on such days. Dry weather is another time you should be extra attentive to your firepit.

Fire Extinguishing Tools 

You must keep adequate fire extinguishing tools near your pit. Carbon dioxide and foam-based fire extinguishers can be effective in managing fires quickly. 

You should also keep a water-based extinguisher nearby. The best possible option is a hose. But you can also keep nearby buckets of water.

Another easy and effective fire management option is sand. The oxidized silicon in the sand makes it non-flammable.

So, keep a shovel and a pile of sand near the pit for emergencies. 

Choice of Fire Pit 

Raised steel fire pits are the best option for wood burning. They are safe because of their distance from the ground. 

Legged fire pits can have either three or four legs. Both are fine. But make sure the structure is strong and stable.

Otherwise, even a slight nudge from the wind could cause it to tilt and fall. Fire bowls are also a good option. They run on propane gas and are easy to carry around due to their compact design. 

In all cases, buy a fire pit from renowned manufacturers. Those companies will likely make the best effort to create safer fire pits.

You should also research your local fire codes before installing and lighting any fire pit. This will save you from many undesirable legal troubles.

While it may be legal according to backyard fire pit regulations to leave a fire burning unattended, it is not safe. Unattended fires can quickly become out of control, posing a danger to property and people. It’s important to always supervise a fire pit and fully extinguish it before leaving.


So, can you leave a fire pit unattended? No, not unless you want to risk getting in trouble with the law or burning down neighborhoods.

An unmanned fire pit can turn a joyful party into a nightmarish disaster within minutes. So, if you are lighting a fire pit, attend to it and extinguish it properly when you are done.