The biggest mistake most people make when trying to get a fire going under pressure is smothering it right after ignition. Tending a survival fire is a delicate dance, and once you have that first flame you must resist piling on too much kindling too soon, especially if it is not absolutely dry. Split kindling wood with an axe, hatchet, or knife to get sharp corners on dry inside fibers that catch easily. Separate kindling into two or three piles of increasingly larger sizes and lay them on in stages to make sure that your initial flame has the continuous source of oxygen it needs to grow. Building your fire lay atop two sticks crossed at right angles will keep the tinder bundle off the ground and give you a way to lift the pile and aerate it as you add fuel.