06/13/08 — One little match: Open burning rules were made to prevent tragedies

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One little match: Open burning rules were made to prevent tragedies

State officials know a lightning strike is what started the blaze that is currently swallowing up a portion of a North Carolina preserve. But that is not always the story when it comes to fires of this magnitude.

Sometimes the cause is something as simple as carelessness or arson.

In fact, several of the major blazes over the past two or three years have been caused by human error or deliberate law-breaking — usually with tragic results.

So what kind of lesson should that teach anyone who lives in an area that has woods and grasses that could have been made vulnerable to wildfires because of heat or drought?

Smokey the Bear was right. You can, too, prevent forest fires.

Fires can start simply from open burning not done properly or when homeowners ignore warnings from local officials about the dangers of lighting unattended fires.

Blazes can be started by a tossed aside cigarette in a dry area — or a teenager playing with matches.

And when a fire like that starts, sometimes it can grow quickly into an inferno that puts people, firefighters and property in jeopardy.

So, follow the rules, use common sense and remember that the first step to protecting Wayne County’s wooded areas and wildlife areas is all of us.

And even more importantly, if you see a violation or someone who is burning in a manner that you think is dangerous, don’t wait. Call law enforcement officials.

That is how you prevent a tragedy.

Published in Editorials on June 13, 2008 11:13 AM