Thursday, July 29, 2004

Drawn to the flame


Thursday July 29, 2004

Drawn to the flame

By Steven Barrie-Anthony, Times Staff Writer

The latest fire pits move beyond the classic brass bowl: Cheaper models are spare and utilitarian, all handles and wheels, while high-end granite models with inlaid tile look like they belong in the tribal council pit on TV's "Survivor."

Before buying, decide what you want to spend and whether you want a simple wood-burning fire pit or a fancier, heavier one that runs on gas. Soon, friends and family will gather in your backyard to temper the inky darkness with fire.

PHOTO: Scrimp PORTABLE OUTDOOR FIREPIT If you are willing to sacrifice elegance for functionality, try Whalen's version. The height of the pit allows for a large fire, and the solid-steel lid directs heat horizontally rather than letting it escape skyward. A wheeled tripod makes it ideal for beach getaways and tailgate parties. Costco, $79.99.

PHOTO: Splurge VILLAGE SQUARE For big spenders who don't care about portability, this one by S.B. Grace is worthy of consideration. The 225-pound pit is made of glass-fiber reinforced concrete that resists cracking, even in freezing weather. The Village Square uses natural gas or liquid propane -- just light a match., $1,565.

PHOTO: Spend STAR & MOON Growing up on a ranch, Joe Boudreau noticed that fire pits tend to give off more smoke than heat -- so Sojoe president Boudreau started cutting designs into steel pits to aerate the flames. This rustic fire pit burns hot, and throws glowing images of stars and moons onto your deck or patio., $299.

PHOTO: Scrimp CHAR-BROIL FIRE BOWL WITH SCREEN The elegant porcelain-coated dish is elevated from the ground on a sturdy steel base. Weathercoating means you can leave it out all night. At 45 pounds, it is light enough to drag all over the yard or patio. The screen should keep embers from popping into nearby foliage. Target, $69.99.

PHOTO: Splurge DECK AND PATIO HEARTH Warming Trends' stylish behemoth features classy inlaid tile customizable to match your decor. Flip a wall switch or use a push-button remote to ignite natural gas or propane. If a freak gust of wind extinguishes the fire, it relights itself in 3 seconds. www.warming-, $3,595.

PHOTO: Spend PATIO FLAME The stainless-steel design by Arctic is one of the few fire pits that are sleek, aesthetically pleasing and highly portable. Make your choice of fuels: wood, or charcoal for longer-lasting warmth. When you feel hunger pangs, it converts easily into a grill., $385.

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