California Travel Tips

Faded Glory – Beach Bonfires in California

Published on: August 10, 2012

One of the hottest things to do on a summer night is to light a bonfire at a beach. In California there are around 24 beaches that still permit bonfires– not quite enough to satisfy over 50 million residents and visitors. There is roughly one fire ring for every 50,000 people. And when those 50,000 all come to use a bonfire ring or pit on a hot summer night, boy are they surprised that they don’t even get a chance to stand close to it! (The majority of emails we receive at are from people wanting to know how to secure a bonfire ring.)

Newport Beach hoped to snuff out their bonfire rings but those darned things are still attracting tourists–and still creating smoke as summer comes to an end. The California Coastal Commission has asked the City of Newport Beach, which decided to get rid of their rings in the spring 2012, to provide a study justifying their claims about the rings creating pollution.

An excellent editorial in one newspaper asks–“Why are you allowing gas guzzling motorboats to pollute your air in the Newport Harbor and not snuffing that activity out, as well?” There are a dozen things that pollute Newport Beach beaches as much as fire rings scattered along the Balboa Peninsula near Balboa Pier and at Corona del Mar State Beach. The editorial makes the claim that a select few want Newport Beach to be more exclusive–more of a country club.  There are expensive homes overlooking those dirty bonfire pits, indeed! A house on the sand or on a cliff may cost you anywhere from a few million to well over $20 million.  Can you blame the homeowners for wanting clean air instead of smoke?

Smoke is primal and goes back to the days when ancient tribes used smoke for signals to communicate. L.A. harbor area was once called the Bay of Smokes. Smoke can also kill people if they breathe too much of it.

But without the knowledge of building fires, cooking food over a fire and using fire to survive, humans are in big trouble should a disaster ever occur such as an outage of the electrical grid. Such an outage is not only possible, but our government is trying to figure out a way to avoid it.  Let’s keep the bonfire rings around!



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