Trusted local news leader for Prescott area communities since 1882
Fri, Jan. 17

Editorial: Smokey’s right: Preventing fires is up to us

Smokey the Bear Nature Stories, No. 1214, Aug. 1, 1961, published by the U.S. Forest Service. (Courtesy National Archives)

Smokey the Bear Nature Stories, No. 1214, Aug. 1, 1961, published by the U.S. Forest Service. (Courtesy National Archives)

The early results are in, and it is apparent that fire season is upon us. Whether within the city perimeters, out in the desert, or in the mountains, the danger is real, and it is up to us to make sure more devastating fires don’t become part of our lives.

It seems like every day now we’re hearing our local fire departments responding to structure or brush fires. Our firefighters are out there working hard, putting their lives in jeopardy in order to save our lives and property. If you ever wanted to help a firefighter, now is the time to do that.

The first place where we can help is around our own homes. We can do things like make certain weeds aren’t out of control, plant fire-resistant plants that hold a lot of moisture, and use materials like rocks to cover bare spaces.

We can place wooden tables and wood piles away from the house, make sure leaves and needles are cleared from our roofs, check to be sure openings under decks, vents, and attics are screened.

We’ve recently published stories about the Viewpoint Fire near Prescott Valley and Chino Valley. It’s been a little more than a week since two homes were destroyed, many more threatened, and more than 5,000 acres were burned. The winds were blustering then, and investigators said it was human caused. They believed chains attached to a trailer hitch were dragged along the road and caused sparks to fly.

Securing those chains while taking the boat to the lake, the trailer on a camping trip, or a load of trash to the dump is an important way to prevent a brush fire. When outdoors in the desert we can also help by taking care of our cigarettes if we smoke, how we have fun with fireworks or out target shooting.

Cigarettes can start a fire hours after they’ve been discarded. It’s so important we don’t toss them out the window when we’re driving, and we need to make sure, doubly sure, and even triply sure they are completely extinguished wherever we are.

The best way to enjoy fireworks without putting the dangers of a fire into play is to let the professionals do it. We’re not naive enough to think people aren’t blowing off their own fireworks. When they do, it is important there is at least a 10-foot radius free of flammable materials and an adequate supply of water or a fire extinguisher is at hand.

There are types of ammunition that could spark a fire when out shooting in these fire conditions. First of all, tracer rounds and exploding targets are prohibited on federal lands in Arizona year-round. It is best to minimize the risks of starting a fire by not using ammunition that is steel-jacketed or has steel-core components.

National forest fires are such a threat at this time, Apache-Sitgreaves, Coconino, and Kaibab national forests have temporarily shut down areas to the public. As the summer heats up, heading to the high and cooler country are popular options.

When heading out for a week or weekend of camping, it’s important to know whether fire restrictions are in place. If campfires are allowed, be sure to not burn one if it becomes windy, don’t leave the fire unattended, and remember the adage, “if it’s too hot to touch, it’s too hot to leave.”

The Daily Courier believes if we all do our part in preventing fires, we can have a safe summer.

The Daily Courier believes Smokey.

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