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What You'll Need:

A safe place to build your fire. If you're outdoors, that means a fire pit away from trees and bushes. Indoors, that means a fireplace with a good grate, a screen that will keep sparks from flying out, and a working flue that you can open up to let smoke escape

Matches. Obviously, you'll need these to start the fire. Of course, you don't need matches—any fire starter will do. Matches are generally the most convenient.

Tinder. This is what you'll use to start your fire. Outdoors, this means small, dry sticks and twigs, while indoors newspaper will work just fine. In especially wet conditions, cedar bark, cattail down and birch bark are ideal materials. Make sure to keep them in a dry place as you gather several handfuls to start your fire.

Assemble your tinder in a loose pile at the center of where you'd like to build your fire. Elevating the tinder slightly on a platform of small stick is a good way to assure that tinder won't get wet, and that the necessary amount of air will be able to circulate. This circulation is necessary for your fire to burn properly.

Kindling. This is wood that's slightly larger than tinder, usually a bit less than an inch in diameter. This will burn easily and get your fire going, building a coal bed under your larger wood. Make sure this is dry. Make sure you choose sticks and twigs that have been off the ground, ideally these would be in the branches of trees and deadfalls.

Logs. You know what these look like. Usually a few inches in diameter, this is the wood that will go on your fire last, that'll build it up to the right size and keep it burning for awhile. You'll want to make sure this is dry before you use it. Some wood burns better than others. Select hardwoods or firs, avoid things such as basswood and poplar.

Water. You've heard Smokey the Bear say it a million times, so I won't bore you, but make sure you have some water handy to put out the fire when you're done. Only you can prevent forest fires.

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