Here's the burn barrel we were using in Mehama. With the holes in the bottom and the ventilation provided by setting it on a grate, you can see that we got it really hot. Of course we also had the hose ready in case anything got out of hand.
There are only a few places on our property where we can safely do a burn pile, but we'll try, when we get a chance and the weather conditions are right (no wind!), to burn some of the brush piling up around the property.