NORTH PLATTE, Neb. — For many, the Labor Day weekend is the last camping trip of the season.

Because of the hot, dry weather expected this weekend, officials are asking people to use caution when lighting campfires.

The Nebraska Forest Service, an extension of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, had placed 26 Nebraska counties, mostly in western and west-central Nebraska, under high or very high fire danger Tuesday.

“There isn’t much rain in the forecast, and there continues to be heat in the forecast,” said Don Westover, rural fire protection program leader for UNL. “It doesn’t look good for Labor Day weekend. The fuels out there are starting to dry down.”

Lower temperatures and occasional rain during the beginning of the summer months helped curb some of the fire danger this year, he said. However, the past week’s high temperatures have hovered near triple digits.

“Once that happens, things get dry pretty fast,” Westover said. “If we get dry lightning or someone is careless with a fire, it’s very likely going to go over the hill. That’s a big concern for us. We’re hoping for the best, but planning for the worst.”

District Ranger Tim Buskirk said the most important thing is tending to a fire and making sure it’s fully out before leaving the area.

“Overall common sense — if you’re out on the forest and not in a campground, make sure you get a good area with not a lot of tall grass,” he said. “Good common sense will go a long way.”

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